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2011 El Portillo Malbec 

Mendoza, Argentina

Retail $10-$12

Argentina's signature grape is the Mendoza region's malbec, which yields stylish, supple, rounded red wines from entry-level bargains to high-priced, high-quality wines. Located 65 miles southwest of the city of Mendoza, Portillo's winery and vineyards are situated on more than 1,000 acres in the high-altitude Uco Valley in the foothills of the Andes mountains. Vines are rooted in alluvial soils atop gravel beds to encourage good drainage, and they thrive in the warm, dry climate at elevations ranging from 3,500 feet to 5,500 feet above sea level. Grapes are hand-harvested at optimal ripeness, and the fruit is destemmed and placed in stainless steel tanks for cold maceration. Fermentation occurs over 10 to 15 days, followed by racking in Portillo's state-of-the-art gravity-flow system. In the glass, the wine offers intense aromas of red berries, black cherry and spice notes. On the palate, the medium-bodied wine has flavors of plum, red currants, blackberry, earthy nuances and velvety tannins. Decant 30 minutes before serving. Drink it with rare steak, rack of lamb, roast beef and burgers. Buy it at: Breaux Mart on Magazine Street, Dorignac's, some Rouses Markets, Acquistapace's Covington Supermarket and Artigue's Abita Market. Drink it at: The Melting Pot and Frankie and Johnny's.

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