SIP: For several years, I’ve been a fan of Susana Balbo’s wines from Argentina, and for me the latest standout is her 2008 “Signature” Malbec from Mendoza. I liked its youthful, concentrated fruit, which shows notes of blackberry and plum with an underpinning of well-integrated oak. I cooled it slightly from room temperature and found it delightful. For all kinds of grilled meats. Wine-searcher.com has a wide range of prices for this wine, from about $19 to $28. Imported by Polaner Selections, Mt. Kisco, New York.
SIP: From Italy, Ruffino’s 2004 Romitorio di Santedame is an outstanding Super Tuscan for special occasions. We enjoyed it recently with friends who came over to help celebrate my older son's 15th birthday, and we were not disappointed. This is one of those wines that seems to get better with every sip. A blend of 60 percent of the indigenous colorino and 40 percent merlot, it started off a bit enclosed but was notable for its ample acidity, which signaled that this was going to be a refreshing wine. As it opened up it revealed notes of blueberry and plum along with cedar, earth, tobacco, leather and bittersweet chocolate. Supple tannins help make the overall effect refined and elegant. It matched well with our grilled herbed chicken breasts but also the tomato pasta sauce my son ordered me to make for the occasion. The suggested price, $70, makes it a wine, as I said, for special events. Imported by Icon Estates, St. Helena, California.
SIP: Angela is a relatively new vineyard in the six-year-old Yamhill-Carlton District, a sub-appellation in the northwest corner of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Angela’s 2008 Oregon Pinot Noir “Clawson Creek Vineyard” is an impressive, $50 offering that shows a Burgundian elegance that is sometimes missing in big, fruit-driven American pinot noirs. From young vines, it displays opulent red and dark berry fruit, some toasty oak and vanilla notes and excellent acidity. Alcohol is a restrained 13.5 percent. “Angela,” by the way, is Angela Beck, who owns the vineyard with her husband Antony. He is part of the family that owns Graham Beck Wines of South Africa. Wines received as press samples.