Roger Gentile has high praise for the 2008 Clos la Coutale Cahors, an elegant Malbec.

Malbecs of Argentina are the hottest selling reds in today's wine world, but they owe their style of rich fruit, nice earth hints and dark color to France's Cahors area.

This western region, just south of Bordeaux, represents the first appellation to feature malbec as a varietal, though in these parts, as in all Old World viticultural areas, wine names are usually not grape types, but regions.

To be sure, Champagne is a sparkling wine that is named for the region, as Chianti is a dry Italian red named for the Chianti appellation. The 2008 Clos la Coutale Cahors shows off the best attributes of malbec: aromas of blueberry and mulberry, plus floral notes, while the mouth shows off some nice tannins and real elegance.

While the Argentine siblings are much fruitier and fleshier, this particular effort, imported by the iconoclastic Kermit Lynch, has verve, finesse and age-able style that belies the $17 price tag. It pairs nicely with steak, roast chicken or ratatouille.

A curious comparison regarding malbec from Argentina and French Cahors shows that Argentina has more than 50,000 acres of planted malbec grapes, while Cahors roughly has 5,000. As well, in Argentina yields per acre can make as many as 6,200 bottles of wine, while in Cahors yields are limited to less than 2,200 bottles per acre, meaning a lot of cost has to be shared with fewer bottles. I don't see how they do it but I'm glad they do. In any event, malbec makes some fine wine regardless of origin. If you can't find this lovely red, tell your wine place that it is sold by Wine Trends.

Roger Gentile is the owner of Gentile's, the Wine Sellers www.gentiles.com and the author of two books on wine.