I straddle the Andes. Is the ultratrendy Argentine malbec or a softer merlot-like Chilean carménère the ticket for easygoing summertime reds? Some friends, recently back from South America, fêted my wife and me with a bottle of this rare carménère, a minor-league Bordeaux varietal. Smitten, I ran out and grabbed a 2007 Santa Rita Carménère Reserva ($11), whose round smoothness envelops black cherry fruit and soft cinnamon spice. Malbec, I love you, but not tonight.







Photograph: Michael Boone