It seems like everybody is on to Argentinian Malbec lately. Yes I know it's not "new" in any sense of the word, but everywhere that I've been lately it seems that people ask me about it or tell me about a bottle they had that they loved. And let's face it, for most folks a good Mabec delivers the goods. They can range from good simple fruity quaffs to more complex examples, sporting earth and spice elements in support of ripe fruit. 2011 Malbec sales in The US market were up an incredible 46% over 2010 and this trend seems to be continuing. I think that part of the reason for the growth is twofold. One is the new world up front fruitiness of the best everyday examples of Malbec. The other is the desire for fans of the style to find bottlings beyond the familiar Californian and Australian wines that they've been buying for years.
In an industry where decades or even hundreds of years of winemaking are not unusual, Altos las Hormigas is a venture whose 1995 origin belies it's year after year consistency. Even for me, a confirmed old world wine fan, Argentinian Malbecs can be a wonderful midpoint of style between Europe and the new world. The 2011 entry level Malbec from Altos las Hormigas is a great example. Ruby/dark purple colors and beautiful aromas of roasted berries, coffee and peppery notes are more complex than you expect from new world wines. The berry/plummy flavors are never heavy or over ripe tasting and the pepper and spice notes repeat on the somewhat short but soft and pleasant finish. This everyday winner sports wonderful balance and nary a hint of it's 14.2% alcohol. Try it with red meat stews or a simple roast chicken. At a miserly $11.99, you can't go wrong. Cheers.