Argentina's Familia Zuccardi has been making great cheap wine for so long that the Wine Curmudgeon tends to take their wines for granted. Their Vida Organica has been a staple at Whole Foods for more than a decade, and was one of the first quality green wines sold in the U.S.
So I was quite excited when the malbec ($10, sample) arrived a couple of weeks ago, even though the wine's name -- the plus sign -- is more than a bit disconcerting. (Turned out to be some sort of rebranding for the U.S. market, and it's basically the same wine as the old Santa Julia without the plus sign).
And my excitement was rewarded. It's easily the best $10 malbec I've tasted in years (yes, better than the Picada 15 and the Yellow + Blue). It has black fruit, but not too much, as well as the acid and tannin that other $10 malbecs don't have. In this, it might not appeal to some wine drinkers because it won't be fruity enough. Plus, somehow, there is barrel aging and not chips or staves, which not only takes the edge off the wine, but is almost unheard of at this price.
The Wine Curmudgeon would love to do this wine in a blind tasting with malbecs that cost $15 or $20, and see which wins. I know which wine I think will win. Highly recommended, and if it doesn't make the $10 Hall of Fame next year, it's because there is no Hall of Fame.