Winter stew companion

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Malbec from Argentina continues to capture the curiosity of the American consumer while increasing its momentum in the retail market. This grape originated in the southwest of France from the Cahors region where it is also known as Auxerrois or Cot. It was used extensively in the wines of Bordeaux, but because of its sensitivity to disease and frost, it now plays a minor role in these blends. It is a dark-skinned grape and in France can express rustic and leathery elements that need time to flesh out in the bottle. Even Malbec from California’s North Coast can assume a more assertive but fleshy expression.

French agronomist Miguel Pouget is recognized for bringing cuttings of this grape from his native country to Argentina. Today, Argentina leads the world in total acreage and exports of Malbec, with double digit growth. Wine consumers have developed a fascination for the juicy, fruit-forward style and spicy character offered by affordable renditions of this grape from Argentina.

Bodegas Viamonte is in the heart of the Upper Mendoza Valley of Argentina at the foothills of the Andes Mountains within the district of Lujan de Cuyo. Resting at an elevation of 3,100 feet above sea level, this high altitude expression reveals a more new world, single-vineyard style of Malbec. The 2010 Viamonte Riserva Malbec is purple to opaque in color and very approachable. Aromas are reminiscent of purple lavender and incense with fruit laced, ripened blueberries and dried blackberries. The mouth-coating blue and black fruits are supple and tame with ripe tannins and a hint of cracked white pepper toward the finish. The lush texture of this wine will make it a great match for a hearty winter stew.

W. Peter Hoyne has been a wine journalist for over 20 years, covering stories of national and international significance. While his professional relationships in the wine industry have allowed him to share a unique perspective of wine, he is also intrigued by the culinary aspect and harmony that exist between wine and food. As a wine advocate, he is committed to consumer education and is focused on upcoming trends and American wine-buying habits.