Tag Archives: Argentine wine

Wine of the week: Evanta Malbec 2017

evanta malbecAldi’s Evanta malbec is what supermarket private label should be — $10 or $12 worth of wine for $4 of $5

May 22 update: The 2018 version of this is now in more stores, and it was disappointing. It’s much more commercial than the 2017 — soft, very ripe fruit, and missing the acidity of the 2017. It’s still worth $4, but it’s nowhere near as interesting as the 2017.

Is is possible? Has Aldi finally hit the private label jackpot with the $4 Evanta malbec? I think so.

The Evanta malbec ($4, purchased, 12.9%) comes as close to Aldi’s European wines for quality and value as any wine I’ve tasted that the chain sells in the U.S. It’s even on a par with the long gone and much lamented Vina Decana, which is probably the best value/quality wine the discount grocer has offered in this country.

The Evanta malbec is what supermarket private label should be — $10 or $12 worth of wine for $4 of $5. It offers better quality and more varietal character than many Argentine malbecs that cost $15 or $18, and there’s no chocolate cherry fake oak or too ripe fruit in an attempt to appeal to the so-called American palate. Instead, the Evanta has blueberry fruit, almost nuanced oak, and enough acidity so that you can tell it’s malbec and not fruit juice and vodka. Plus, it’s somehow fresh and not cloying, almost impossible to do with a wine at this price.

Highly recommended. This is the kind of wine to buy a case of and keep around the house. I’m going to do that, and I don’t much care for New World malbec. It’s that well made and that much of a value.

Imported by Pampa Beverages

 

Mini-reviews 114: Aldi wine, Muga rose, Vigouroux, Dos Almas

aldi wineReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the fourth Friday of each month.

Sunshine Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ($7, purchased, 12.4%): This is how dedicated the Wine Curmudgeon is – I still buy Aldi wine even though I haven’t tasted one worth recommending in years. This New Zealand white is another disappointment, no different than any $7 grocery store Kiwi Zealand sauvignon blanc — almost raw grapefruit flavor and nothing else.

Muga Rosado 2017: ($15, purchased, 13.5%): One of the drawbacks to the rose boom – this Spanish pink increased in price by one-third. This vintage is much better than 2016, with clean and refreshing berry fruit and that wonderful rose mouth feel. But $15 – and as much as $18 elsewhere – is a lot of money to pay for $12 of quality. Imported by Fine Estates from Spain

Georges Vigouroux Gouleyant Malbec 2016 ($10, purchased, 13.5%): Surprisingly disappointing French red from a top-notch producer. It’s mostly tart in an old-fashioned, not good way, and without any earthiness or plummy malbec fruit.

Zonin Dos Almas Brut NV ($12, sample, 12%): This Argentine bubbly is too soft and too sweet for brut. Plus, it’s decidedly dull, with simple structure and bubbles. There are dozens of sparkling wines in the world that cost less and taste better. Imported by Zonin USA

Mini-reviews 110: Aldi wine, Bota Box, Chammisal, Jean Bousquet

chardonnayReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the fourth Friday of each month. This month, four critically-challenged chardonnays

Broken Clouds Chardonnay 2016 ($9, purchased, 13.5%): I desperately wanted to like this Aldi private label white from California, But it’s a “least common denominator” wine – made to appeal to the most people possible without regard for quality. It’s the same price as Bogle or McManis, but not nearly as well made thanks to the cloying vanilla fake oak and the hint of sweetness. One more example of how Aldi and Lidl aren’t doing in the U.S. what they do in Europe.

Bota Box Chardonnay NV ($15/3-liter box, sample, 13%): This California white, about $4 a bottle, is, sadly, is what everyone thinks boxed wine tastes like. There’s a little chardonnay character, but it’s bitter and tannic thanks to what seems to be the poor quality grapes used to get the price so low. Plus, it tastes like the stems and seeds were crushed with the grapes, which would be the cause of the off-putting flavors.

Chamisal Vineyards Chardonnay 2015 ($16, sample, 13.5%): This California white is heavy, somehow hot, and oaky though it’s not supposed to have oak. Plus, it’s very warm climate – tropical fruit instead of crisper green apple. In other words, almost everything I don’t like in California chardonnay. Having said that, if that’s your style, enjoy.

Domaine Jean Bousquet Chardonnay 2018 ($12, sample, 13.5): This Argentine white is grocery store chardonnay that would be OK at $8 or $9, but is overpriced here. Plus, it’s not especially crisp the way an unoaked, cool climate chardonnay should be. It just sort of sits in the glass and you don’t really care whether you finish it or not.

Wine of the week: Argento Malbec 2015

argento malbecThe 2015 Argento Malbec isn’t Hall of Fame quality, but remains quality cheap wine

The good news about this vintage of the Argento Malbec, a red wine from Argentina, is that it’s worth drinking. The bad news? That it’s not quite as tight and as fresh as the 2014, which made the $10 Hall of Fame in 2016.

In one respect, this vintage difference is a good thing, which shows that the producer lets the grapes determine the quality of the wine and doesn’t make every vintage taste the same using post-modern winemaking technology. Which, of course, is what happens to so much cheap wine these days, and not for the better.

This version of the Argento malbec ($10, sample, 13.5%) is still more than acceptable $10 malbec, especially since most grocery store malbecs taste like blueberry Kool-Aid spiked with poor quality grain alcohol. The wine has the requisite blueberry and sweet spice flavors, sort of tannins in the back, and some (chocolate flavored?) fake oak that surprisingly boosts the whole. It’s just softer and not as bright as the 2014 was, so it will likely be dropped from the Hall of Fame next January.

But if you’re stuck in the grocery store and need a red wine that won’t insult your intelligence, you can do a lot worse than this.

Mini-reviews 92: 2016 closeout edition

2016 closeout editionReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month. This month, the 2016 closeout edition.

Kenwood Jack London Zinfandel 2014 ($25, sample, 14.5%): OK California zinfandel that isn’t what it once was, when it ranked with Ridge for quality. But it fits the parameters for what zinfandel is supposed to taste like today. Lots of sweet black fruit, though a bit of spice and earth on the back.

Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2013 ($25, sample, 13.5%): Not very interesting Italian red wine without much fruit but with a lot – and I mean a lot – of acidity. It was so out of whack I wondered it was flawed in some way.

Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville 2007 ($45, sample, 15.5%): No, not a typo, but a California red that I got as a sample when the blog started and has been sitting the wine fridge since then. It’s made to taste exactly the way it tastes to wow the Winestream Media. In other words, rich, elegant, not quite sweet grape juice with some oak. If you like that style, you’ll love this wine.

Bodegas Salentein Killka Malbec 2014 ($13, sample, 14%): Competent premiumized Argentine red wine, with less fruit than most. But in the end, it’s still sweetish and not very interesting – another in a long line of malbecs made to taste a certain way and do that one thing very well.

Wine of the week: Argento Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Argento Cabernet Sauvignon 2014Argento cabernet sauvignon — $10 wine that is varietally correct, and how often does that happen?

The Argento cabernet sauvignon does something that almost no other $10 cabernet can do – deliver legitimate cabernet character. Or as my old pal Rick Rockwell (who likes wine but knows better than to obsess about it) said, “I can’t believe this wine is this good for $10.”

The Argentine Argento wines regularly surprise me. The chardonnay is quite pleasant and the malbec made the 2016 Hall of Fame. The Argento cabernet sauvignon ($10, sample, 13.8%) isn’t quite as impressive as the malbec, but will not disappoint anyone who wants an affordable cabernet that is neither too fruity nor too rough or too bitter.

Look for fresh red fruit, but not so much that it overwhelms what is a simple yet well made wine. There are enough tannins, plus real oak (hard to believe in a wine of this price), and even something herbal. The latter makes a huge difference, transforming this from just another grocery store wine into something worth drinking.

Pair this with red meat; we drank it with Lake Geneva Country Meats bratwurst, and it did nicely.

Labor Day wine 2016

Labor Day wine 2016Four refreshing wines to enjoy for Labor Day

Labor Day means three things: The beginning of the end of the Texas summer (which wasn’t too bad this year, save for one week); the annual the Kerrville Fall Music Festival; and a chance to remind wine drinkers that warmer weather means lighter wines. Hence Labor Day wine 2016.

This is a notion that wine drinkers are happily embracing, if my email is any indication – the idea that heavy, alcoholic, and tannic wines don’t go with 90 degree temperatures. Rather, the goal is wine that is refreshing, since you’re likely to drink it outdoors at a picnic or barbecue. Plus, these wines should be food friendly, because you’re probably going to drink them with a holiday dinner or lunch.

These four bottles of Labor Day wine 2016 (Google overlord alert) should help you find something lighter and fresher for the holiday:

Domaine Guillaman 2015 ($9, purchased, 11.5%): This white Gascon blend (including, oddly enough, chardonnay) is remarkably consistent from year to year. More toward the sauvignon blanc style of white Gascon blends, it’s ideal for chilling and porch drinking.

Moulin de Gassac rose 2015 ($10, purchased, 12%): This French pink wine shows why rose is such a terrific value – not too much red fruit, crisp, fresh, and lively. And it will pair with almost anything at a Labor Day barbecue.

Gran Baron Cava Brut NV ($10, purchased, 11.5%): Simple but value-oriented Spanish sparkling wine with lots of tight bubbles and apple and citrus fruit. Probably somewhere between Cristalino and Segura Viudas in quality, and its probably a little softer than I like.

Catena Malbec 2013 ($24, sample, 13.5%): One of the best Argentine malbecs I’ve ever had. The black fruit (blueberries?) doesn’t overwhelm the wine, and it remains balanced, not too heavy or cloying, and surprisingly enjoyable. Red meat wine, and especially pork barbecue. The price may be problematic, though it’s probably worth this much.

For more on Labor Day wine:
Labor Day wine 2015
Labor Day wine 2014
Labor Day wine 2013
Porch wine for the long, hot summer