PICK of the RACK: Viña Alicia | Paso de Piedra | Cabernet Sauvignon | Luján de Cuyo | Mendoza | Argentina | 2010 | $20 | 90 pts

Vina Alicia 2Founded in 1998 by Alicia Arizu, wife of Argentine winemaking pioneer Alberto Arizu, Viña Alicia sits in Mendoza’s Luján de Coyo region — Argentina’s first officially recognized wine producing appellation.  Luján de Coyo is distinguished by high elevations (upwards of 3,000 feet), sandy alluvial soils, and a dry Mediterranean climate with broad daytime/nighttime temperature swings.  Irrigation comes courtesy of snowmelt from the soaring Andes Mountains on the western horizon.  This PICK is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from Viña Alecia’s San Alberto vineyard, where 40 year-old vines are rooted in decomposed limestone-over-clay. This is an earthy and meaty Cabernet, with aromas of sweet cured tobacco, pencil shavings, and crème brûlée tuned with flavors of fresh blackberry, roasted plum, and toasted coconut — all deepened with flourishes of grapefruit peel and clove on the finish.  The wine is full-bodied and richly layered on the palate, with moderate acids, approachable tannins, and unobtrusive oak; it aged for only eight months in used American and French oak barrels.  But this bold and intriguingly edgy Cabernet is not a casual sipping wine; it shouts out for a juicy steak or other hearty fare such as seared Italian sausage, barbequed/smoked meats, or grilled tuna.  We recommend that it be decanted for an hour, or so, before serving.  For more information on Viña Alicia and its wines, visit them virtually at www.vinaalecia.com.  Check with your local wine merchant for availability; we found it at Bell Wine & Spirits on M Street in downtown Washington, D.C. (www.bellwineshop.com).

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