They say it will be the next NAPA valley...the Uco valley in Mendoza, Argentina. There has been a lot of big money invested there in the last 10 years - you get almost unlimited sunshine, copious amounts of Andes meltwater (most of it in a huge aquifier) and high altitude. Two of the newer European bodegas there are also architectural masterpieces - Salentein and O. Fournier. So, lets taste. The O. Fournier, alfa crux, 2002 is a blend with tempranillo the major component. Deep purple colour with a beguiling nose of berries and warm oak - the nose is the best part of this wine! This is a medium-full bodied, slick, racy wine with lush tannins. There is red fruit and blueberries. Wow. Not cheap at $39, but try to get this quality from Bordeaux for the same price....
From Salentein comes their Reserva Malbec, 2006. 14 months in oak. Not quite as deep coloured as the Fournier, this younger wine is closed on the nose. But it's ready to drink. A bright, vibrant, medium bodied wine with raspberry fruit, it's very smooth and goes down well. A good, serious wine. Good value at $18.
Now for a cheap quickie - from Portugal comes the Quinta de Bons-Ventos, Estramadura, 2006. $12 gets you a dirty little wine with redcurrants mixed in with earth, minerals and iodine. Noticeably Portuguese, this is an OK, honest everyday drinker.