Buenos Aires - Restaurant Wine and a few for the Road
I'll be in Buenos Aires for the first time in a couple of weeks and would like some advice on what to order from restaurant wine lists. Obviously malbec which my wife and I love, but from what I've heard from friends who've been there a lot of the pricier reservas you'll find on the lists are too young. Haven't decided where we're going to eat yet, I guess the timeout list would be representative of the type of places we'll be eating
What should I be looking for on a list as far as malbecs I'll see on restaurant lists, and should I be asking the waiter/sommelier for something special that might not be on the list they drop in front of a tourist? I know enough Spanish to get a smile out of a waiter.
Also, I want to bring a couple styrofoam shippers back with me. Any suggestions on a couple of mixed case of reds I should bring back that I wouldn't be able to find back stateside, and which store I should buy it from - and preferable a store that also sells the styrofoam shippers? Preferably drinkable sooner rather than later.
I'll try to help out as much as I can. I've reviewed about 125 Argentine wines or so, and there are only a few I find myself coming back to drink.
My favorite Malbec of all time is the Bressia Monteagrelo (about $30). Bressia also produces my favorite icon-level wine, the Conjuro, and they've just released a super-icon that's already Argentina's second highest-priced wine of all time. Pretty much anything they make is gold, regardless of price.
As for the traditional Malbec, nothing beats an Achaval Ferrer wine. Four of his five wines are Malbecs, three of which are icon-level. The base Malbec is an incredible value, too. Basically, he's the country's most famous Malbec man, but he can also be found stateside, so I'd recommend taking a pass on him.
I'm also a huge fan of Pulenta Estate, but mostly for their blends, which are, to be fair, mostly composed of Malbec. It's probably the best moderately-priced brand. I love their icon-level wine, the Gran Corte, a $45 mix of mostly Malbec and Cab that is still probably the best value of any premium Argentine wine.
Finally, for a cheap wine that I had quite a few times, go with the Malbec Festivo. It's pretty commonly available in restaurants, but I haven't found it here.
Really, though, the sommelier should be able to help you out. In any decent parrilla, most of the wines should be Malbec or include Malbec in some way.
As for a wine store, I like Le Choix de Vin for a huge selection. Just ask them for their recommendations--they're pretty good about it. They'll also package a whole case for you.
Hope that helps.
P.S. side note from that list of restaurants: La Vineria de Gualtero Bolivar serves any wine from the menu by the glass, no matter how expensive it is. I got them to open up a $100 bottle just for me (and then they were stuck with drinking the rest).