Wine of the Week

Here's a good place to start if you're unfamiliar with Malbec. In Bordeaux, Malbec is a mere blending grape; in the high desert country of Altos de Mendoza, Argentina, it plays the leading role.

This wine stains the glass a gorgeous inky red and smells deliciously of ripe fruit, sandalwood and cool forest. It has wonderful concentration (the grapevines are an average of 40 years old) and simply floods the mouth with flavor. It tastes of smoke, spice, berries and a judicious touch of (mostly French) oak.

Argentina is really moving up in terms of wine, and this is one of the best Argentine wines I've tasted. In terms of price, it's a real find. (Simply because of its heavy, expensive-looking bottle, nobody will believe you paid less than $30 for it.) Drink up. Here's a new grape and a new wine to discover.

If you can't find Amorio (Spanish for "love affair"), look for the Corazon and Julibo, two other blends from the same estate.

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About $27. Available at Wally's in Westwood, (310) 475-0606; Woodland Hills Wine Co. in Woodland Hills, (818) 222-1111; and Southern Hemisphere Wine Center in Huntington Beach, (800) 504-9463.

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