During these trying economic times, it’s especially important to take cost into account when evaluating wines. Spending upwards of even $50 on a nice bottle of wine is no longer a possibility for a large portion of Americans, and this new truth renders purchasing traditionally elegant wines, such as Bordeaux, Napa Valley Cabernet, or Brunello nearly impossible. So where is one to turn for wines of exceptional quality for half the price of those wines? I’ve featured wines from Spain frequently this year, and believe that many bottles being produced there offer fantastic price to quality ratios. However, for across-the-board quality at consistently reasonable prices, there’s no place better right now than South America (specifically, Argentina and Chile). The wine I’ve chosen to highlight this month is easily the best Malbec under $40 that I’ve ever tasted.

LUCA MALBEC UCO VALLEY MENDOZA 2007, $35, 92 Points, 1700 cases produced

Lush, deep nose with dark berry fruit, cocoa powder and mineral. Mouth-coating dark plum, fig and licorice flavors with a commanding mocha/ cocoa nuance, rich and fruity throughout. Long finish is balanced to near perfection with mineral and understated tannins adding complexity to the lingering purple fruit and mocha.

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