Hope you’re up for an adventure because this week we have the opportunity to explore new territory in red wine — the Malbec grape from Argentina and a few others. These wines are courtesy of LCBO Vintages department.


Argentinian reds, Malbec in particular, may be the next big thing in wine, so why not get on it before your friends start asking if you’ve heard of it. Malbec is one of the Bordeaux grapes (along with Cabernet and Merlot) so the expression in the wine is manly, but not too serious.


Generally, the red wines of Argentina have the nice ripeness/fruitiness of neighbouring Chile but they also have the firm dryness of traditional European wines. It’s great stuff for steak.


My two recommendations below are everyday Malbecs — flavourful, easy-drinking and not too hefty.


Casa de Campo is a master of good buys in house wine. Their ’04 Malbec combines great drinkability with some character. Finca Flichman ’05 Malbec Reserva is another great house wine, but has a shade more plush and lush. I can’t imagine a better winter red.

Two other exciting winter reds in the Vintages release are Ch. de Gourgazaud from the south of France, and Quinta de Camarate from Portugal. The Gourgazaud is an upscale edition of the wine with the same name in regular stores. There’s more flavour and spice but it still delivers the gutsy bistro experience. Camarate has a rustic/rich character. Try it with braised meats.

For more, visit www.billysbestbottles.com(weekly picks/Vintages).

Billy Munnelly is author, wine critic and publisher of the most useful wine book on the market, Billy's Best Bottles Wines for 2007, a guide to the best wines at the LCBO. Available in bookstores or at www.billysbestbottles.com. For LCBO Vintages recommendations, wine events and in-home wine tastings, visit www.billysbestbottles.com.


• Casa de Campo ’04 Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina

LCBO No.: 14399

Price: $11.95

• Finca Flichman ’05 Malbec Reserva, Mendoza, Argentina

LCBO No.: 746727

Price: $12.95 (shown bottle)

• Ch. de Gourgazaud ’04 Cuvée Mathilde, Minervois, France

LCBO No.: 958629

Price: $12.95

•J.M. da Fonseca ’04 Quinta de Camarate, Terras do Sado, Portugal

LCBO No.: 357962

Price: $14.95