At RN74 wine bar in San Francisco, a visiting Australian winemaker looked over the extensive by-the-glass list and chose several red wines to compare. Lined up before us were a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a Syrah from California's Amador County and Catena Zapata's 2006 Malbec from Argentina. Hands down, we both liked the Malbec best.
This is a wine with real generosity of spirit. The ripe plum and berry aromas and flavors burst from the glass, showing wafts of coffee, earth and vanilla. There was just enough grip from a light veil of tannins to make the wine sit up, and it all wrapped up in a deftly balanced package on the plush finish. Non-blind, 90 points, easy.
The style, not quite as crunchy and bold as some Argentine Malbecs, made beautiful music with my duck confit, cleverly served in a version of cassoulet made with barley instead of beans. And the wine, priced at $14 a glass, also tasted fine with tempura maitake mushrooms.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind tasting review for Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec Mendoza 2006 (91, $25).