A selection of Argentina's tastiest bargain wines 

South-American Sippers

Argentina is a big country, and it produces a lot of wine. In fact, it's the fifth largest wine producer in the world. Most of the wine grapes grown in Argentina (the Criolla and the Cereza grapes) result in simple, local wines that never leave the country. However, wines made from other well-known grapes, thankfully, do enter the American market. Look for Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Semillon, Riesling and more. As for reds, you can find Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Tempranillo and some Italian varietals, such as Barbera and Sangiovese. Most of Argentina's vineyards are in the state of Mendoza, which is about the same latitude as Santiago, one of Chile's major wine-growing regions. The following wines from Argentina are not just great bargains: They're terrific with the foods we enjoy in warm weather.

1999 Santa Julia Chardonnay Reserva, ($9.99) — This estate-grown wine is full-bodied and packed with flavors of mango, coconut and peach. Pour it as an aperitif, or try it with grilled scallops, steamed lobster, or sautéed soft-shell crabs.

2000 Santa Julia Chardonnay, ($6.99) — The younger sister of the Reserva, this affordable white is somewhat lighter than the reserva, but no less flavorful. It marries well with grilled shrimp, pasta with fresh morels or rotisserie chicken. (And did we mention the word "bargain?" This wine is a terrific choice for graduation parties or other large gatherings on a budget.)

1999 Alamos Chardonnay, ($9.99) —A medium-full white with a flowery nose and crisp-peachy flavors on the palate. Chill it down and pour it with roast chicken, Caesar salad with shrimp, or simple brunch dishes such as eggs Benedict.

1998 Trapiche Chardonnay Oak Cask, ($9.99) — Luscious aromas of pear and peach; mouth-filling and flavorful, with hints of mango and vanilla. Try this 100 percent Chardonnay with crab cakes, pasta with clam sauce or New England clam chowder.

1997 Norton Sangiovese ($8.99) — From Mendoza, this medium-bodied red is a bargain indeed. Beautifully balanced with tart, dried-cherry flavors, it has pronounced fruit and a dry finish. Delicious with grilled steak or butterflied leg of lamb.

2000 Santa Julia Merlot, ($7.99) — Who would have thought a wine so young could taste so yummy and complex? Tangy cranberry fruit flavors complement a wide variety of foods, such as roast chicken, grilled pork chops and creamy pasta dishes.

1997 Trapiche Malbec Oak Cask, ($9.99) — An assertive nose with notes of prune and blackberry, this robust wine is full on the palate and delightful with juicy burgers, thick steaks and roast pork tenderloin.

1999 Alamos Malbec, ($9.99) - This medium-full-bodied red has a pleasant nose with hints of mint, cedar and leather. In the mouth, Alamos Malbec is rich and juicy, with flavors of raspberry and cassis. Wonderful with grilled flank steak, veal chops or pork


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