June Wine: Malbec Achaval-Ferrer 2005

In Food & Drink: Bold wines, southern classics, and indispensable dispensers.

Credit: Ellen Ho

A wine that’s bold enough for the barbie. Plus: revival of a southern classic and an indispensable dispenser.

Malbec Achaval-Ferrer 2005

Summertime – and even if the livin’ isn’t as easy as it has been in some other years, it would be a crime to waste the weather. The sun is still high, the air still warm and the smells of summer waft over the decks and gardens. It’s a perfect time to gather some close friends, throw some ribs on the barbie and pour out a bold red wine.

My favourite choice for such a backyard evening is a Malbec, an inky dark grape that probably originated in Burgundy but that has been appropriated by the Argentines, almost as a national variety. There is nothing subtle about a Malbec, no fine shadings of style or texture that must be searched out in a hermetically sealed tasting room. No, the Malbec is rich and robust enough to stand up to the smoky aromas and barbecue-sauce flavours of an outdoor meal.

One of my current favourites is the 2005 Malbec from the low-yield Achaval-Ferrer vineyard, perched in a desert on the side of the Andes in the Argentine province of Mendoza. It’s a great value at $27.90 at Marquis Wine Cellars (marquis-wines.com). If you’re fond of something a little fruitier, a good red Zinfandel is also up to the outdoor challenge, and the 2005 Ridge Geyserville is a 40th-anniversary vintage that is drinking very well. Marquis has this for $55.

Finally, if you haven’t abandoned beef as a sacrifice to reduce your carbon footprint, you might still want to search out a hearty Cabernet to go with a high-end steak. But again, for the ribs, the pork steaks – even for a thick and juicy burger, slathered with sauce and dripping with cheddar – try the Malbec. You’ll be delighted you did.

Mint JulepSouthern Revival
Manager Brian Matassa and his team at Diva at the Met are bringing back the Platinum Classics: the Vancouver restaurant’s list of classic summer drinks. “They are marriages of some of the craft’s most enduring recipes with the upper echelon of their component spirits,” explains Matassa.

Included in the lineup is the Maker’s Mint Julep, made with mint-infused Maker’s Mark bourbon, super-fine sugar and crushed ice. Cool and refreshing, the cocktail is perfect for sunny summer afternoons or Gatsby-themed parties. $14 at Diva. —A.B.

Roost glasswareDispensing Advice
Add a touch of sophistication to outdoor gatherings with Roost’s mouth-blown Marseilles beverage dispensers and Ibex glassware collection. With gentle curves and generous proportions, these lidded vessels are sleek, easy to use and (importantly) easy to clean.

The glassware – with solid hand-carved bases meant to evoke the scalloped horns of an ibex (a wild mountain goat) – is suitable for an assortment of summer libations. Medium dispenser, $295; large dispenser, $385; assorted glassware ranging from $15 to $20. All available at Peridot Decorative Homewear. —A.B.