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Weekend wines: For a hearty beef stew, a winning $12 Argentine cabernet

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Rich beef stews call for robust red wines that won't be easily intimidated.

By Edward Deitch, Vint-ed.com

UPDATE: A number of you asked for the recipe for my wife's beef Burgundy. I’ve posted the recipe here. 

In our house, one of my favorite dinners is my wife’s version of beef Burgundy, which she learned from her mother — full of slow-cooked meat, usually cubed chuck, along with onions, mushroom, carrots and spices, all simmered in a beef stock spiked with half a bottle or so of red wine.


While pinot noir, the signature red of Burgundy, brings a marvelous sweetness to the dish itself, I have found that a more robust red wine is better to drink with it, especially because the stew is served with a good deal of gravy, which gets soaked up by the white basmati rice served on the side. I have found that pinot noirs are usually overpowered.

While many other wines will work, one that did especially well when I tried it the other night was an inexpensive red from Argentina, Susana Balbo’s 2010 “Crios” Cabernet Sauvignon from Mendoza. On Wine-Searcher, I found it widely available and listed from about $10 to $14. Balbo makes consistently excellent wines, and the 2010 Crios is the best of the recent vintages.

The fruit is ripe and concentrated and bursts with plum, blackberry and red and black currant supported by subtle oak and elegant tannins — quite a package for the price. The wine, which is blended with five percent malbec, is at once easy to drink and interesting. Alcohol is listed at 13.9 percent.

Finding even a little complexity in cabernet sauvignon for under $15 or even $20 is one of the bigger challenges in the wine world. Argentina, which is known primarily for its malbecs, deserves more attention for its cabs, including another Susana Balbo release I reviewed recently. Imported by Vine Connections, Sausalito, California. Wines received as press samples.

Want more suggestions? On Vint-ed.com, I review a superb Napa Valley cabernet from Smith-Madrone Vineyards.

Edward Deitch is a James Beard Award-winning wine critic. Find many more of his wine reviews and commentary on his blog, Vint-ed.com, and follow him on Twitter.

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