Wine of the Week: An Under-$10 Malbec from (Yup, You Guessed It) Argentina

Categories: Wine Time

altos del plata.jpg
Photo by Jeremy Parzen.
When my wife Tracie P and I pulled the synthetic cork out of a bottle of Terrazas de los Andes Altos del Plata Malbec on Saturday evening at a family function, we joked that we could write the tasting note without even sampling the contents: "Bright jammy fruit, with an intense blueberry note, aggressive but balanced alcohol, reluctant acidity but quaffable nonetheless, a crowd-pleaser for under $10."

Let's face it. Wines from Argentina are like McDonald's. And that's a good thing, people! No matter where you go, you know that a Big Mac will taste exactly like the Big Mac you enjoy (when hungover) at your corner franchise.

And like Mickey D's secret sauce, the Argentine wine formula is a winner all over the world.

Because wines from Argentina -- especially on the higher end of the Quality Price Ratio spectrum -- tend to be highly alcoholic and highly concentrated in their aromas and flavors, we generally avoid them. In part because the more alcohol and the more highly concentrated a wine, the narrower the field of potential wine pairings. And when you get into the highest-end expressions of the Argentina "brand," the oakiness of the wines leaves room for only one pairing at our house: Charred steak swimming in clarified butter -- a combination that works well when executed by professionals.

But when it comes to the under-$15 price point, Argentina regularly delivers quaffable, crowd-pleasing quality and sturdy, juicy wines that will pair well with the "all you can eat" buffet.

With the Houston International Festival around the corner, Argentina -- this year's theme -- has been on our minds. And so we headed down to Spec's and asked our regular wine salesperson to hook us up with a few under-$15 bottles to try.

Not every label in the bunch was a winner, but we did enjoy the Terrazas de los Andes Altos del Plata. AND it weighed in at less than $10!

The winery's website doesn't offer much in technical descriptions of how the wine is made.

"Our Terrazas wines," it reports, "are sourced from carefully selected vineyards in Mendoza. Each grape variety is cultivated at its ideal elevation above sea level, to express the pure tipicity of the varietal. These high quality wines are characterized by their intense fruity aroma and flavor, soft tannins and well-rounded structure."

Oh yeah, my tasting note?

Bright jammy fruit, with an intense blueberry note, aggressive but balanced alcohol, reluctant acidity but quaffable nonetheless, a crowd-pleaser for under $10.

Look for me at the festival: I'll be the dude munching down a Big Mac, sucking down a Malbec from Argentina in a plastic cup, and rocking out to Los Amigos Invisibiles.

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Location Info


Spec's Warehouse

2410 Smith St., Houston, TX

Category: General

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The fact that you are having wine in a plastic cup...even if it were just for the sad Mc Donalds analogy, shows which type of wines you are used to having and how much you know about the wide spectrum of Argentinian wines.

Christina Uticone
Christina Uticone

Dude, how do you always know what we're drinking? You are scary.

Not this bottle, but opened one similar last night while tearing out hair over taxes. Argentinian Malbec, very jammy and bolder than I tend to like, but I warmed right up to it.


sounds similar to Aussie wines

Jeremy Parzen
Jeremy Parzen

It's a good tax time wine!

Seriously, I rarely find them to be offensive, except for the oaky higher end ones... they're generally juicy and balanced... just not my thing...

Thanks for reading! 


Strange, does not sound like the Henshke Hill of Grace, Wendouree, Shobbrook, Apsley Gorge, Sinapsius, Shaw+Smith, Yabby Lake wines that I've tasted? Perhaps when you use the term Aussie you are not referring to Australia? Or should we apply the same logic and say that "Two Buck Chuck" is the only wine produced in the US?


I think you can say comfortably that there is a predominant wine-making style of each country, as is Jeremy's point here. Big, fruit-forward wines would probably describe the largest slice of the Australian style pretty well, though I'm sure you could point out the exceptions, as you have. You could say the same of new world US style, without resorting to the two-buck chuck stereotype.


I was referring to Austrian wines actually Tairanniew, but I am impressed by your beyond-the-novice level experience of Australian wines.

Try all the Gruner V's that have flooded the market, and see if you agree.

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