Restivo Malbec and Cab: 2 exciting pours from Argentina

The leap in quality of Argentina’s wines and the consumer friendly prices make them a no brainer to buy. In 2010, according to the U.S. Commerce Department, Argentina’s wine exports to the U.S. ranked fifth behind the wines of Italy, France, Australia and Chile, which is quite a feat considering 15 years ago they were hardly on the radar screen outside of Argentina.

Argentina has always been a large producer of wines because of its huge population of Italian immigrants, which brought their customs with them. But it has only been in recent years that the wines have been made for export. And along the way came lots of flying winemakers from around the world and vintners with a modern vision to raise the quality to satisfy international standards.

Brand / background: Restivo is a creation of the wine importer Biagio Cru and Estate Wines, in Roslyn Heights, N.Y.  Biagio Cru is highly focused on Italian wines and sales to big-box stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club. It was founded by Vincent, Darren and Ben Restivo, and later joined by Vincent’s brother Lou Restivo. The Restivo brand, with a Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, hails from Argentina, from the southern-most region of Patagonia.

Good to know: Recently, the 2010 Restivo Reserve Malbec made Wine Enthusiast magazine’s Top 100 Best Buys under $15 with a 90 rating. Wine Spectator gave the 2010 Restivo Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 89 points.

Availability and price: Wholesale clubs and restaurants, and retail stores nationwide. Coming to Michigan early next year. Priced from $12.99 to $15.

Tasting notes

Restivo Malbec Reserve Argentina 2010, under $15: You can just about chew this one. Lift the glass to your nose: cherries, blackberries, ripe dark plums, dark chocolate. On the palate, you are greeted with firm tannins, lots of fruit and spice — it tastes like it was made from grapes that underrwent stress to build a wine with character and intense, pure flavors. Grapes are from the semi-desert of Patagonia, which sees huge swings in temperature, in the south of Argentina.

Restivo Cabernet Sauvignon Argentina 2010, under $15: This in an intense, brooding wine, redolent of berries, plums, cherries, chocolate and spice. It’s a well-structured wine, that tastes artisanal, not commercial, with a deep well of flavor, fruit, alcohol and tannin. It’s all substance, no flab.