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2011 Kaiken Malbec Reserva 

Mendoza, Argentina

Retail $12-$13

Montes Alpha, the renowned Chilean wine producer, crossed the Andes into Argentina to take advantage of the idyllic growing conditions for malbec grapes. Malbec originated in southwest France and is often used in Bordeaux blends, but the grape soared to solo prominence as a result of the advancements in viticulture and vinification by Argentine producers. The three vineyards sit at altitudes above 2,900 feet, which, along with the daily temperature swing, creates long, slow, even ripening and results in wines of great structure and balance. A blend of 96 percent malbec and 4 percent cabernet sauvignon grapes are hand harvested and undergo pre- and post-fermentation maceration and very light filtering. Sixty percent of the wine spends six months in French oak barrels before bottling. In the glass, it offers aromas of mature red and black fruit, cocoa, traces of vanilla and spice. On the palate, the full-bodied wine has plum and blackberry flavors, savory notes, earthy minerality, good acidity and well-integrated tannins. Decant 30 minutes before serving. Drink it with steaks, grilled sausages, barbecue, stews, pasta dishes and firm cheeses. Buy it at: Pearl Wine Co., Rouses Markets on Franklin Avenue, Airline Drive, 2900 Veterans Memorial Blvd. in Metairie and Compac Food and General Store. Drink it at: Commander's Palace, Emeril's, The Pelican Club, Morton's Steakhouse, Bravo Cucina, Silk Road, Nonna Mia, Taj of India and Tacos & Beer.

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