drink malbec.jpgIt’s amazing what you can accomplish under pressure. When that critical moment comes, and you bring the goods, rise to the occasion or score the goal it can be the most exhilarating feeling. Watching the World Cup this week, we’ve sat on the edge of our chair, holding our breath, crossing our fingers, cheering our teams on – waiting for that moment. Saturday’s Argentina vs. Mexico match came down to just that – in overtime, with a tie score of 1 to 1, Argentina pulled through – scoring an amazing goal to win the game and move on in the tournament. Pressure is pretty powerful. It’s the reason some of the most exciting points are scored with just a few seconds left on the clock. It forces you to reach a little further down, and go a little further than you knew you could. It’s also the reason that some of the most expressive and concentrated wines are those created when the vine is under extreme pressure.

Fertile lush soil and ample rain are not ideal conditions for the vine. The vine will produce lots of fruit, however the quality of the fruit will suffer – being diluted and lacking in concentration. The best conditions are those where the vine has to work. The amount of fruit will be lower, but each grape will be concentrated and intense. Argentina is no stranger to success under pressure. Their vines have achieved excellent results in unusual conditions. The vineyards are some of the highest in the world, the climate is semi-desert and the air is dry – but this marriage of conditions (along with a little irrigation) has resulted in exciting wines, which, in some cases, will bring you to your feet.

Malbec has found its true home in Argentina and is the grape that has put Argentina on the wine map. Being able to achieve full ripeness in the warm sunny vineyards, these malbecs have concentrated fruit, nice complexity and serve as the perfect accompaniment to summer barbeque. Here are some of our favorites…

2002 Bodega Catena Malbec “Alta”, Mendoza, Argentina, around $48

This wine has it all – notes of vanilla, blackberry and hints of smoke to bring it all together.

2004 Ben Marco Malbec, Mendoza Argentina, around $20
This wine is a blend of Malbec (87%), Bonarda (12%) and a dash of Cabernet Franc (1%). The rich flavors of ripe blackberries and plums seem to jump out of the glass.

2004 Jelu Malbec, San Juan Argentina, around $9
This wine is a great value and a wonderful entry into the world of malbec. Although it lacks some of the intensity of the other wines we’ve had, it was enjoyable, with ripe black fruit and juicy acidity.

Now if white wines are more your speed in this hot weather, then Torrontes is the way to go. This wine is so agreeable that it’s like the laid back host of the party – making everyone feel comfortable but offering a unique flavor to the mix. This wine is expressive, showing bright notes of ripe apricots, peaches and floral notes with medium acidity and a full lush body. It’s the perfect refreshment on those warm summer evenings. Our pick…

2005 Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes Cafayate, Argentina, around $15

This wine had luscious notes of peaches apricots and a hint of lychee on the palate.

To show support for Argentina as they go up against Germany this Friday, we will be drinking Argentinean wines. But if the luck has run out, the pressure too much and Argentina fails to come through, we’ll drown our sorrows in a bottle or two of malbec, a glass of torrontes and some tempranillo. Victory may taste sweet but solace, well, that could taste just as good.