Sunny Argentina is a hotbed for value, especially for reds made from the country’s signature grape, Malbec. The Amalaya cuvée from Hess Family Latin America, a recent spin-off from Bodega Colomé, is a perennial top value from the northern Salta region and leads this report. The wine is a blend of 75 percent Malbec, with added Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat for structure and a dash of Syrah for additional flesh.
Chilean producer Veramonte has crossed the Andes Mountains and released its first Mendoza Malbec. The 2010 bottling is a solid, plush version rounded out with Syrah and Petit Verdot. Winemaker Cristian Aliaga aged the wine for 14 months in French oak barrels, 30 percent new.
Finally, there are two rare Uco Valley Sauvignon Blancs from Bodegas y Viñedos O. Fournier. The Bcrux offers a classic profile with crisp citrus and straw notes, while the Alfa Crux is a richer version that owner and winemaker José Manuel Ortega has fermented in 500-liter oak barrels.
1- HESS FAMILY LATIN AMERICA Amalaya Calchaquí Valley 2010 Score: 89 | $17
2- BODEGA CUARTO DOMINIO Malbec Mendoza Chento 2010 Score: 89 | $20.
3- BODEGAS Y VIÑEDOS O. FOURNIER Sauvignon Blanc Uco Valley Alfa Crux 2009 Score: 89 | $29
4- CUVELIER DE LOS ANDES Malbec Mendoza 2010 Score: 88 | $18
5- CASARENA Malbec Mendoza 2010 Score: 87 | $17
6- FINCA SOPHENIA Malbec Tupungato Altosur 2010 Score: 87 | $12
7- MICHEL TORINO Malbec Calchaquí Valley Don David Reserve 2010 Score: 87 | $16
8- VERAMONTE Malbec Mendoza Primus 2010 Score: 87 | $20
9- FINCAS DON MARTINO Pedro Ximénez Mendoza Old Vine 2011 Score: 86 | $16
A distinct, crisp white, blending flavors of marcona almond and salted butter, with waxy lemon zest and peach pit notes that lead to a smoky finish. Drink now. 800 cases imported. —N.W.
10- RICARDO SANTOS Sémillon Mendoza Una Seleccion de la Finca de Roberto Azaretto 2011 Score: 86 | $16
11- BODEGAS Y VIÑEDOS SUR DE LOS ANDES Malbec Mendoza 2010 Score: 86 | $12
12- BROADBENT Malbec Mendoza 2010 Score: 85 | $14
13- BODEGAS Y VIÑEDOS O. FOURNIER Sauvignon Blanc Uco Valley Bcrux 2010 Score: 85 | $19