In the ultra-competitive wine world countries and regions struggle to find an identity so their products stand out in the consumers' minds. Old World regions such as Bordeaux, Tuscany and others have had hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of years to determine the best grapes for their climate and establish the reputation of their best wines. New World wine regions are now struggling to carve a niche for themselves and many are relying on single varietals as their calling card. Now, I think there is a danger to aligning oneself to a single varietal, as the Australians have undoubtedly felt the impact of waning consumer interest in Shiraz and lumbered styles of Chardonnay and South Africa may be best served by not over promoting Pinotage; especially when it makes such beautiful Chenin Blanc and Rhone varietals. Admittedly, I haven't jumped on to the Malbec bandwagon and earnestly believe Argentina will need to tell us the virtues of its other varietals or risk consumers becoming bored.
Everyday: Trapiche Fincas Las Palmas Malbec (Select NSLC, $19.99)
There are few wines, in the market, that deliver this much impact for the price. I love how this wine combines an Old World cedar, anise and tobacco character on the nose with lots of juicy blueberry fruit flavours. The finish is structured but the tannins sufficiently round to make this wine immediately appealing. This is the follow up wine to the highly successful 2009 vintage which was such a huge success at last year's Port of Wines festival. I'd recommend buying a few of these before they are gone. They won't last long.
Serving Suggestion: Grilled balsamic marinated flank steak served with sautéed mushrooms.
Concha Y Toro Terrunyo Carmenère (Select NSLC, $39.99)
I admittedly couldn't stand most of the first Carmenère to hit the shelves of the NSLC a decade ago as the first to arrive were overtly vegetal. Thanks to Chilean winemakers now identifying its best clones and generally allowing the grapes to ripen further on the vine, the grape is now producing some impressive wiens. Ranking amongst my favourites is Concha Y Toro's Terrunyo l Carmenère which delivers a full-bodied, fairly luscious taste experience with none of the capsicum flavours of Carmenère from days gone by. Bold dark fruit, plum, coffee, cedar and mineral/graphite notes dominate this wine. The finish is sufficiently round to enjoy now or cellar for up to 10 years.
Serving Suggestion: Roast coffee rubbed venison loin served with roasted potatoes.
Mark DeWolf is the Food & Drinks editor of Occasions Magazine, a sommelier instructor and owner of By the Glass.