Catena, a pioneering wine family in Argentina that helped resurrect Malbec over a century ago, is famous for its high-altitude vineyards in Mendoza.
Their Alamos bottling, purple black in colour, is full-bodied and offers an attractive mix of fruity and savoury notes, especially black raspberry, cherry, cassis, and spice. Complex, bold, almost chewy, this Malbec is quite dry and should be served with food, preferably something meaty such as prime rib, or anything off the barbecue. It’s a handsome wine, and nicely priced at $21.
A good friend recently brought over her favourite Prosecco for a dinner party and it proved a big hit. Masi is one of the most notable producers in Italy’s Veneto region, and their Modello Prosecco ($25) is delightfully soft and silky, with a subtly seductive nose and lots of green apple and pear and a touch of citrus on the palate. With its creamy texture and fresh fizziness, this stylish sparkler can be savoured on its own or served with salmon, tuna steaks, or a creamy goat cheese.
Wine icon Robert Mondavi looms large in California, so even his Woodbridge budget label, founded in 1979, is well worth taking note of. Their Chardonnay ($17.25), simple but charming, has flavours of pear and apple complemented by some tropical fruit notes and a vanilla oakiness. Medium-bodied and bearing enough acidity to imbue this appealing wine with a vivid freshness, the Woodbridge is fine for patio sipping and well-matched with herbed salmon, roast chicken, or lighter pasta dishes at the dinner table.
The Nipozzano Chianti Reserva is produced by Marchesi de Frescobaldi (whose family name has been influential in Italy’s Tuscany wine region since medieval days). Aromatic, robust, and bold, this nicely balanced Reserva offers the palate a generous serving of cassis, cherry, raspberry, and cranberry, alongside hints of pepper and spice. Full-bodied and dry, this food-friendly tipple is a fine example of what Chianti can offer. Not an everyday wine at $31, but an earthy charmer all the way. (All prices include tax.)