My personal life has been undergoing a bit of a wine drought lately. My husband and I recently purchased our first home and, while we fully intended to celebrate with a great bottle of Champagne, he had to rush off to work right after the closing. The surrounding flurry of activity—acquiring the mortgage, packing up our apartment of more than a decade (who realized our closets held that much?), the actual move (dragged out over two weeks) and the searching for essentials among all the boxes—hasn't exactly left us with time for the leisurely summer meals we envisioned enjoying with a bottle of wine on our deck.
But finally, the kitchen was mostly unpacked, groceries were purchased and we didn't absolutely have to do anything else after dinner. So I rummaged through the boxes of wine stashed in our cellar-to-be and pulled out the first likely prospect to go with the recipe for beef in a hoisin-based sauce that I was trying out: the Catena Malbec from Argentina's Mendoza region. Usually an outstanding bottling, the Malbec earned a spot on Wine Spectator's Top 100 of 2011 with its 2009 vintage, so I knew we were in for a treat. But I was a bit surprised at how successful the spontaneous match was.
Full of rich, dark fruit—blackberry, boysenberry, Mission figs and black plums—the Malbec had a supple texture and a core of minerality and vibrant acidity that led into the lingering finish, where smoky, savory herb, pepper and baking spice notes came out. On its own, the finish was more pure fruit-driven and the tannins more prominent, but with the food, the red’s complex nuances, such as hints of fine pipe tobacco, became more distinct. I gave it 91 points, non-blind, and it cost just under $25 when I bought it. A nice way to end a dry spell.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec Mendoza 2009 (91 points, $24, Top 100 of 2011—No. 58).
• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Malbecs from Argentina.