La Moneda Reserva malbec – the best cheap wine in the world?

La Moneda reserva malbecIs Chile’s La Moneda Reserva malbec really the best cheap wine in the world? Probably not. But it is a wonderful example of how screwed up wine is.

May 15, 2017 update: A reader writes: Why so much publicity and so little availability?

Nov. 27 update: The Wine Curmudgeon braved Black Friday Dallas traffic to drive to a Walmart in Irving and bought the last bottle in the store. The review is here.

Nov. 22 update: The wine is coming to Dallas, and the Wine Curmudgeon is on the hunt for it. Which, of course, doesn’t mean I will be able to find it, wine availability being what it is.

Nov. 16 update: The cyber-ether is agog this morning with news that the La Moneda will be available in the U.S., apparently next week, at select Walmarts. I will try to find a bottle for review, though none of the “breathless, buy this wine now” stories said if it was the same wine that is the focus of this blog post and won the award.

Where else but wine would a product that no one can buy in the U.S. make headlines throughout the country? “Walmart’s $6 red wine named one of the best in the world,” screamed Fox News. “Wal-Mart brand red wine named one of the best in the world,” shouted CNBC. And, my favorite, from the ultra-hip Daily Meal, “Walmart Brand Red Wine Costing $6 Named One of the Best in the World,” complete with diaper reference.

That’s because the wine business teaches us that only expensive wine is any good, and the U.S. media parrots that line whenever possible. No one in this country can buy the La Moneda Reserva malbec, because it’s a private label sold only at ASDA, a supermarket chain owned by Walmart in Great Britain. But who cares? It’s cheap! Really cheap!!

Can you imagine those news outlets doing the same thing for ketchup or blue jeans or a car that none of their readers could buy? Of course not. But it’s wine! That’s cheap!! Really cheap!!!

To their credit, my colleagues in the Winestream Media didn’t go quite as berserk when the La Moneda Reserva malbec won a platinum medal at Decanter’s World Wine Awards. Some noted that it’s odd that a Chilean wine made with malbec, an Argentine grape, did so well. Some made the point that much of the fuss was silly since no one could buy it. And none made any claims to quality, since none had tasted it.

I haven’t either. But since I’ve probably tasted more grocery store wine that anyone else in the world, I’d guess that the La Moneda Reserva malbec is likely well made and deserving of its medal. I’m a little concerned that one of the judges called it “a crowd pleaser,” which is wine judge for lots of fruit. But is it appreciably better than any other wine in the $10 Hall of Fame? What do you think?

Know, too, that this is almost certainly a one-off success, given the way private label works. The company that found the wine for ASDA, International Procurement & Logistics, supplies products based on pricing, not necessarily quality. ASDA wanted a red wine to sell at retail for £5.75 that it could make a certain margin on, and that’s what International Procurement looked for. It wasn’t about terroir, but the cost of grapes, and the quality was a happy accident.

So be glad that British wine drinkers have a quality $10 wine to drown their Brexit sorrows with. But also wish the media in this country that went silly about a cheap wine being good would pay more attention to what’s on the shelves at their grocery stores. Maybe then we’d have better wine to buy in this country.

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35 thoughts on “La Moneda Reserva malbec – the best cheap wine in the world?

  • By George Christo - Reply

    Maybe…

  • By Blake Gray - Reply

    Reading the headline, I was going to remind you of Betteridge’s Law of Headlines but I see it’s unnecessary.

    • By Wine Curmudgeon - Reply

      I have been writing headlines, now that I think about it, since I was 15 years old. I can’t decide if that’s depressing or not.

  • By Robin Hargis - Reply

    Where can I buy La Moneda Malbec wine in the gainesville florida area

    • By Wine Curmudgeon - Reply

      You can’t, which was the point of the post. A joke, right?

      • By Patricia - Reply

        FYI, Malbec is not a grape from Argentina exclusively. Chile has a lot of it.

        • By Wine Curmudgeon - Reply

          Indeed, as I noted in the post. But it’s not what Chile is famous for, which makes the quality/value ratio more appealing if the wine is good.

    • By Philip Guterman - Reply

      where can I buy La Moneda Malbec Reserva in northern N.J. (near Washington bridge)

      • By Wine Curmudgeon - Reply

        You can’t buy this wine in the U.S. That’s the point of the post.

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  • By Janet D'Agostino - Reply

    No wonder I haven’t been able to find it!!!

  • By jesus - Reply

    Can anybody if it is possible to order it from the UK?

    • By Wine Curmudgeon - Reply

      Probably not, and the shipping cost would be prohibitive anyway.

  • By Nala Rewop - Reply

    I’m lucky! Just called in my local ASDA – 12 bottles on the shelf… – I left – no bottles on the shelf.. 🙂

  • By Davis - Reply

    I’m in GA how can i buy this Wine

    • By Wine Curmudgeon - Reply

      You can’t — that’s the point of the post.

  • By Mar_Vista - Reply

    Where can I buy this wine in IL? Joking…we can read in IL 🙂

  • By Debra - Reply

    Where can I purchase La Moneda Reserva Malbec in Roswell, Georgia?

    • By Wine Curmudgeon - Reply

      You can’t.. that’s the point of the post.

  • By fran - Reply

    where in the NY area to buy. Thanks,

    • By Wine Curmudgeon - Reply

      You can’t. That’s the point of the post.

  • By Alan - Reply

    Just to say , bought some today at ASDA , and it is very ,very good , price £4.37 .

    • By Wine Curmudgeon - Reply

      Thanks for this, Alan. And, as noted for everyone who doesn’t have access to an ASDA in the United Kingdom, that’s the only place you can buy it.

  • By Vaffangool - Reply

    @Debra

    Where can I purchase La Moneda Reserva Malbec in Roswell, Georgia?

    From Roswell:
    (1) Take the 85 bus to North Springs MARTA.
    (2) Take the Red Line south to Hartsfield.
    (3) From Concourse F take British Airways flight 226 to Heathrow.
    (4) From Terminal 5 take the 490 (Richmond) bus to Feltham Station, Stop D.
    (5) Walk about 300 metres to the Asda Superstore at the Centre Feltham

    If you see Batt’s Tomato Ketchup, you’ve wandered into the nearby Lidl rather than walk the prescribed 300 metres.
    For less bother you could get off the MARTA at Midtown and pick up a $5 bottle of wine at Trader Joe’s.

  • By Tony - Reply

    I carry La Monday in the DFW area at Wal-Mart. 1635 Market Place Blvd. Irving, Tx.

  • By Victor - Reply

    false, I bought 16 bottles of la moneda wine at walmart in sunrise Florida yesterday after finding out it was elected the best cheap wine in the world, by the way is not $6 but $6.99 each; still a super bargain.

    • By Wine Curmudgeon - Reply

      Glad you found it. As noted in the most recent update to the post, Walmart started selling the wine in the U.S. at the beginning of December and I reviewed it last week.

  • By Christine - Reply

    Anyone know where in the Bay Area I can find this?

    • By Wine Curmudgeon - Reply

      Check with any Walmarts near you. That’s the only retailer that sells it.

  • By Mark - Reply

    Be careful. I bought a couple of bottles yesterday from Asda in the UK and the date on the rear of the bottle, which is in very small text, states 2016. Many people will rush to buy this not realising they are NOT buying the medal-winning year, but a different wine made a year later. This will not be the same wine so no guarantee of the same quality.

    • By Wine Curmudgeon - Reply

      Thanks for this. A long-time retailer trick is to advertise a wine as an award winner or a big point scorer, and it won’t be the wine on sale. This happens in retailers all over the world.

  • By Jeannecalfas - Reply

    Great wine

  • By Steven S - Reply

    Where can I purchase La Moneda Reserva Malbec in San Antonio, Texas?

    • By Wine Curmudgeon - Reply

      You probably can’t. It’s all gone from last year.

  • By Sue - Reply

    Where canI buy your award winning Mulbac wine in Dallas, Texas?

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