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Executive editor Thomas Matthews joined Wine Spectator in 1988. His tasting beat is Spain.
Thomas Matthews

A Meaty Malbec at a Steak House

Bodega Vistalba Vistalba Corte A Mendoza 2007

Thomas Matthews
Posted: November 15, 2011

Wine Spectator's Dec. 15 issue cover story analyzes the Malbec boom. The phenomenal rise of Argentina’s signature red is the wine world’s biggest success story these days. The report includes comments from Roger Dagorn, wine director at Porter House in Manhattan’s Time Warner Center, about Malbec’s suitability with beef, and its consequent popularity on his list.

So when my cousin George brought some friends to New York and asked me to arrange dinner at a steak house, I thought of Porter House. And when we got there—seated at a big table by the window with stunning views of Central Park—and most of us ordered steak, I thought of Malbec.

Roger recommended a 2007 Malbec blend from Vistalba. Vistalba is a new project from Carlos Pulenta, who comes from an old wine family in Argentina. A state-of-the-art winery draws on fruit from 60-year-old vines in the Luján de Cuyo subregion of Mendoza. This cuvée blends 19 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 3 percent Bonarda with Malbec, and ages the wine 12 months in French oak before bottling. It is listed at $110 on Porter House’s 500-selection wine list, which holds a Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator.

The wine was dense and smooth, with a dark mix of toasty, meaty, licorice and savory flavors. It had enough weight to match the mineral-tinged, dry-aged steak and enough fruit to keep the marriage bright and fresh. I rated it 91 points, non-blind. We drank two bottles, but couldn’t finish our steaks, so we took them home. The leftovers made for a hearty breakfast while we followed George’s friend Michael as he ran his first marathon. He finished in less than 5 hours! Congratulations, Michael.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Bodega Vistalba Vistalba Corte A Mendoza 2007 ($50 retail).

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Malbecs from Argentina.

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