No question, one of the most superb Malbecs you’ll find in the 20-dollar range. There’s a palpable stamp of authenticity in the glass: an obvious handcrafted quality and a color—in the bigger sense of the word, not just in terms of hue and shade—that is vivid in its evocation of South American character. This wine comes from very old vines planted in Luján de Cuyo, a desert-like and also high-altitude region of Mendoza, Argentina. The soil there is at the same time stony but loose. The weather is bone-dry but also with extreme temperature swings. These, and other, attributes of the land offer a committed wine producing team at MENDEL quite an artists’ palette to work with in order to produce a classic Malbec that is rich and generous in bright and fresh flavors of blueberry and plum, along with soft tones of savory spices and nuts. The 2013 vintage wine is full of finesse, so easy on the palate. The journey from beginning to end is seamless, reflecting a careful and passionate craft at work. That such a low-key and unassuming but precisely and elegantly crafted, let alone an eminently affordable, work of art should be able to travel across its own borders and reach distant lands and shores is perhaps more than our good fortune. You can call it a blessing. –J.M.