Tag Archives: Argentine wine

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

rose reviews 2018

Memorial Day and rose 2016

rose 2016This year, as we celebrate the blog’s ninth annual Memorial Day and rose post at the traditional start of summer, we have much to enjoy. Not only have the hipsters and the Hamptons elite embraced rose, but so has Big Wine – Dark Horse, an E&J Gallo label, has released a dry rose, something I don’t remember Gallo brands doing very often (though the wine isn’t quite up to this post’s standards).

So let us rejoice. The rest of the wine world might be going to hell in a hand-basket – premiumization, consolidation, Millennialization and all the other -ations that have taken so much fun out of wine – but rose remains cheap and delicious and widely available.

This year’s recommendations are after the jump. You should also check out the rose category link, which lists eight years of rose reviews. The blog’s rose primer discusses styles, why rose is dry, how it gets its pink color, and why vintage matters. Vintage, in fact, is especially important this year; I didn’t see as many 2015s on shelves as I should have, and there seemed to be more older wines. In rose, older does not usually mean better. Continue reading

Mini-reviews 84: Beso de Vino, Graffigna, Our Daily Red, Albero

Beso de VinoReviews 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.

Beso de Vino Syrah/Grenache 2014 ($10, purchased, 13%): The sort of wine that I am always wary of, given the cute front and back labels. So it’s not surprising that this Spanish red blend doesn’t taste much of Spain, syrah, or grenache – just another International style wine with way too much fruit.

Graffigna Reserve Centenario Malbec 2014 ($15, sample, 14%): Competent Argentine grocery store malbec with sweet black fruit, not too much in the way of tannins, and just enough acidity so it isn’t flabby. Not what I like and especially at this price, but this is a very popular style.

Our Daily Red Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($10, sample, 12.5%): This California red is juicy, simple, and zesty, with more red fruit than I expected. There isn’t much going on, but there doesn’t need to be given what it’s trying to do. Enjoyable in a “I want a glass of wine and this is sitting on the counter” sort of way.

Albero Cava Brut NV ($8, purchased, 11.5%): One day, I’ll find a wine at Trader Joe’s that will justify its reputation for cheap, value wines. This Spanish sparkler isn’t it — barely worthwhile, with almost no fruit and not even close to Segura Viudas or Cristalino.

 

Mini-reviews 81: Estancia, malbec, Macon, Scarpetta

estanciaReviews 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.

? Estancia Pinot Grigo 2014 ($9, purchased, 13.5%): This California white is another example of the deteriorating state of cheap wine. If you drank it when it was released almost a year ago, it had pleasant apple and tropical fruit and was certainly worth what it cost. Drink it almost a year after release, which I did, and the fruit is gone and what’s left is mostly pithy bitterness — the kind of wine people cite when they say they don’t like wine. Even $9 white wine should last 15 or 18 months.

? Pascual Toso Malbec 2014 ($8, purchased, 14%): This red is a decent enough grocery store Argentine malbec, without too much jammy berry fruit and a little rusticity for balance, though there is way too much fake oak. It’s not bad, but not as good as it could be.

? Louis Jadot M con-Villages 2014 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): This French white is everything the Estancia isn’t, and offers at least $10 worth of chardonnay. Look for green apple, a nicely rich mouth feel, and short if refreshing finish. It should be in most supermarkets in the country, so you have something to buy if all else fails.

? Scarpetta Timido NV ($17, purchased, 12%): This sweetish Italian rose sparkling wine has lots of strawberry and then some more sweetness, just like I remember from the bad old days. You can buy the same quality wine for half the price without any trouble at all.