Don Miguel Gascon 2007 Malbec

With a 90 pt rating from Robert Parker, this wine is inky as expected, but unexpectedly well rounded with a full mid-palate (nearly unheard of for a varietal malbec), and most importantly a shockingly good value.

Plum, nutmeg, cassis on the palette with a heady spiced nose that demands equally good wine food. My pairing was pork chops pan fried in duck fat with sage, pancetta stuffed dates glazed in cassis, and goatsmilk bucheron. The cheese and especially the dates (with the pancetta note) were uncanny with this wine. I'm not convinced this is age-worthy, so drink it now.

Rating: 90-91
Cost: $10-12


Tenuta delle Terre Nere "Etna" 2005

Following a long conversation with a wine distributor I was recently turned onto a shockingly good wine from Sicily, a region with a somewhat unenvious international wine tradition.

The Tenuta dell Terre Nere producers grow grapes on Mount Etna, vines that apparently live at the highest altitude in Europe. Well the rarified air and volcanic soil have produced something that is very reminiscent of a Cru class Burgundy. The identifying grapes are Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Capuccio. We enjoyed this with a grilled steak, but the complexity will accommodate a number of food pairings. For those of us who are fatigued by the spotty success of finding a pinot under $20 that's worth drinking, this is highly recommended.

Cost: $16
Rating: 90