This pleasing duo comes from the inexpensive Elsa label of Valentin Bianchi, in the San Rafael area of Argentina’s Mendoza region.

Made all in stainless steel, the incredibly fresh and attractive Elsa Torrontes 2008 bursts with notes of honeysuckle and jasmine, lime and limestone, lemon curd and dusty orange rind. In the mouth, ripe and juicy lemon and grapefruit flavors are permeated by dried thyme and tarragon, smoke and minerals. The wine is quite dry, vibrant with crisp acidity, nicely balanced between a sense of spareness and moderate lushness; a bit of time in the glass adds to its richness and palatability. A lovely quaff for drinking through the end of 2009. Very Good+

(The label on the image is 2007; the wine under review is indeed 2008.)

A hint of oak gives the Elsa Malbec 2008 a degree of suppleness and a background of spice. The wine is luscious and flavorful, deep with ripe black currant, black cherry and plum flavors highlighted by touches of wild berry, dried flowers, smoke and leather. Drink through 2010 with burgers, pizzas, hearty pastas and pork tenderloin. Very good.

These wines are priced at about $9, making them (especially the Torrontes) Great Bargains. They are closed with screw-caps for easy opening.

The importer is Quintessential, Napa, Cal.

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