From $9.45, €8.95, £10ish
Like last week's grower champagne, this high-altitude Argentine bargain is delightfully easy to find in US bottle shops. It is also available in Germany and Austria and in the UK (where prices, as usual, are higher), where it is sold by Gerard Seel, Lea & Sandeman, Great Grog, Hedley Wright, Ten Acres Wines, Martinez and Christopher Keiller. It is difficult to compare prices since this list is a mixture of online and bricks and mortar retailers with very different delivery charges but, to give you an idea, Lea & Sandeman will charge you £10.95 for a single bottle bought from one of their shops. Gerard Seel list it at £8.40 a bottle but would charge £7.50 to deliver it.
I recently tasted the current range from O Fournier's three dynamic wineries in Valle de Uco, Argentina, up-and-coming Maule in Chile, and Ribera del Duero in Spain. Purple Pagers can see my notes by putting O Fournier in the tasting notes search box and sorting the results by Date tasted. This producer is making a wide range of exciting wines. I was particularly impressed by the Sauvignons from Leyda Valley in Chile - one oaked, Graves-style, and one not, Leyda style - and by their old-vine Alfa Centauri 2009 Cabernet Franc from Maule, which are fine wines by any measure.
But best value seemed to me to be this seriously charming young Malbec. It was grown at 1,100 metres and aged in French oak barrels for just three months so it has a little structure but the sheer purity and exuberance of the fruit far outweighs any tannin at this point. There's even a little grace note of something that reminds me of the savoury tobacco-leaf scent of Tempranillo, for which O Fournier are famous in Mendoza but I think it is described as 100% Malbec. Although there has been a general move towards refinement of late, there is no shortage of Mendoza Malbec that strikes my palate as a bit too alcoholic or sweet. This wine is billed as 14.5% alcohol but doesn't taste that potent. It also finishes admirably dry and has far more grunt and real personality than made-to-order Argentine Malbec.
I see to my chagrin that this is not the first time I have chosen this wine as a wine of the week. The very youthful 2008 vintage of it was my pick here in October 2008. Is it me or O Fournier who is predictable? I hope it's them and would drink this happily any time over the next two years.
Find out more about this exciting operation, with its own award-winning restaurant in La Consulta, Argentina, at www.ofournier.com, whence comes the picture of that wonderful Mendoza clarity of light.