Tag Archives: Argentine wine

Mini-reviews 71: Vin Vault, Rueda, Arido, Avalon

vin vaultReviews 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.

? Vin Vault Pinot Noir 2013 ($20 for 3-liter box, sample, 13%): This California red, part of E&J Gallo’s assault on the booming box wine business, offers much more than $5 a bottle worth of value (since a 3-liter box equals four bottles). Look for red fruit and soft tannins, though it tastes more like a red blend than pinot noir (and my guess is that it has been blended with lots of grenache or syrah). Still, it’s pleasant drinking and a huge step up from most $5 pinot noir.

? Marqu s de C ceres Rueda 2013 ($8, purchased, 12.5%): This version of the Spanish white from one of Spain’s biggest producers is made with the verdejo grape. It’s much more balanced than previous vintages — the lemon fruit is more rounded and it’s less harsh. A steal at this price, though it’s still a simple wine, and its tartness may put some people off.

? rido Malbec 2013 ($10, sample, 13.7%): Just another Argentine grocery store malbec with lots and lots of sweet red fruit, some tannins that don’t really fit with the sweet fruit, and not much else. It’s an example of why I liked this malbec so much.

? Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 ($10, sample, 13.9%): This California red is not the old $10 Napa Avalon cabernet, one of the great cheap wines of all time and which now costs as much as $18. But it’s professionally made, if hardly complex, and mostly a value with soft tannins, black fruit, a little mouth feel, and some acid to round it out. If you’re in a grocery store and need a red wine for dinner, this will be fine.

 

Wine of the week: Trivento Malbec 2013

trivento malbecIt’s not so much that the Wine Curmudgeon doesn’t like malbec; rather, it’s that most malbec tastes like it’s made from the same recipe, regardless of who makes it or where it’s from — too much sweet red fruit and without any tannins or crispness, as boring as it can be. So when I tasted the Trivento malbec, I didn’t expect much.

Silly me. What’s the first rule of wine writing? Taste the wine before you judge it, and the Trivento ($9, sample, 14%) was a revelation, everything that most malbec isn’t — surprising depth and structure, and especially for an Argentine malbec at this price. I guess I forgot how much I liked it last time.

The red fruit (cherry?) was more juicy than soft, and the wine wasn’t flabby at all. I can’t remember the last time I wrote that about this kind of wine. In addition, there was varietal character, with sweet tannins and some heft at the back. Tasting this, it’s easy to see why malbec is supposed to be a beef wine, which isn’t true of most of that I taste, which is more suited to ice cubes.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2016 Hall of Fame. The Trivento malbec was so much more interesting than most of the malbec on grocery store shelves that it makes me wonder why more producers don’t try this approach.

 

Two terrific wines from Nieto Senetiner, plus two others well worth drinking

nieto senetiner wine reviewsThe Wine Curmudgeon has long been in a quandary about Argentine wine. The best tend to be expensive, and there are other wines I’d rather spend the money on than its malbecs and red blends. The least expensive wines are too often corporately dull, and overpriced at that.

Which is why it was such a pleasure to taste the wines from Nieto Senetiner, a 126-year-old Argentine producer whose wines were none of those things. Santiago Mayorga, one of the company’s winemakers, knew exactly what I was talking about when I explained my dilemma to him; the company’s approach, he said, was to offer better quality than grocery store malbecs, but at a better price than the country’s high-end wines.

Much better prices, actually. These four wines are each worth buying, and the first two are exceptional values and highly recommended:

? Torrontes 2013 ($12, sample, 13.5%): A bone dry torrontes, which is as welcome as it is rare. Most versions of this white wine, the most popular in Argentina, are sweet to off dry, and too many are sickly sweet. There are delicious off-dry torrontes, but this one has even those beat. Look for an almost lemon tonic flavor with a hint of orange peel, and much more subtle than a sauvignon blanc. Pair this with grilled vegetables, Thanksgiving, even fried fish.

?Bonardo 2012 ($13, sample, 14%): Malbec gets most of the attention, but bonardo has long been an important red grape in Argentina. This wine shows why — juicy strawberry, but also spicy and almost minty. Spaghetti wine in the finest sense of the word, as well as anything with red meat and roast chicken.

? Malbec 2012 ($13, sample, 14%): I drink very little malbec; even well-made versions are usually too soft and fruity for me. This wine, somehow, is varietally correct, but plummier, darker, and deeper, and the well-constructed tannins add interest. There is more to this than just cola and blueberry aromas.

? Don Nicanor Estate Malbec 2011 ($20, sample, 14.5%): This red takes the previous malbec to the next level, with more berry flavor and some black pepper without the alcohol getting in the way. Much more complex than I thought a malbec at this price could be.

A tip o’ the WC fedora to Eli Cohn at Veritas in Dallas, who helped out with the tasting and told me how good the bonardo would be.

Mini-reviews 61: McKinley Springs, Gordon Brothers, Fowles, Alamos

wine mini-reviews 61Reviews 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.

? McKinley Springs Bombing Range Red 2010 ($15, sample, 13.8%): Ordinary Washington state red blend, made with more than half syrah, that has lots of cherry fruit that people of a certain age will buy for the World War II fighter plane label.

? Gordon Brothers Chardonnay 2012 ($15, sample, 13.7%): Washington state chardonnay that tastes, believe it or not, exactly like the back label says it does — apricot, pear, and buttery vanilla. A little much for my taste, but there’s a demand for this style.

? Fowles Sauvignon Blanc Are you Game? 2012 ($17, sample, 12.7%): Very nicely done white from Australia that is more California in style, with with lots of grassy aromas. The only quibble: Is it almost twice the wine of something like the Dry Creek fume blanc?

? Alamos Chardonnay 2012 ($13, sample, 13.5%): Grocery store chardonnay from Argentina (some oak, some green apple, and not much else) with a suggested retail price that’s almost one-third more than a typical grocery store chardonnay. Which says pretty much everything you need to know about the wine.

Wine of the week: Argento Malbec Reserva 2011

Wine of the week: Argento Malbec Reserva 2011Juicy black cherry fruit
But not cloying or too sweet
Surprising malbec

Because haiku seems just as effective in a wine review as most of the gobbledygook in tasting notes (though it will no doubt crash Google’s search algorithms).

One caveat: Don’t confuse the reserve ($13, sample, 13.9%) with Argento’s regular malbec, which is two or three dollars cheaper, very ordinary, and probably not worth the effort.

Mini-reviews 57: Bonterra, Carlos Pulenta, Da Luca, Tormaresca

Mini-reviews 57: Bonterra, Carlos Pulenta, Da Luca, TormarescaReviews 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.

? Bonterra Zinfandel 2011 ($16, sample, 14.5%): More old-style zinfandel than new, with brambly black fruit and alcohol in balance instead of a fruit-infused cocktail that makes you reach for a glass of water after a sip and a half. Another winner in my recent zinfandel streak, and a treat to drink.

? Carlos Pulenta Malbec Tomero 2011 ($15, sample, 14%): Fairly-priced Argentine red that doesn’t have too much black fruit — which means it’s drinkable and not syrupy — and somehow manages to be mostly balanced. A very pleasant surprise.

? Da Luca Pinot Grigio 2012 ($13, sample, 12%): Disjointed pinot grigio with requisite tonic water at back but also weird fruit in the middle, almost tropical. Not much better than grocery store pinot grigio but at almost twice the price.

? Tormaresca Chardonnay 2012 ($9, purchased, 12%): How the mighty have fallen. This white, like the Tormaresca Neprica, used to be value-priced quality wine. Now, it has just one note — lots of what tastes like cheap fake oak, with very little fruit or interest. Very disappointing.

Winebits 319: Malbec, health, Champagne

Winebits 319: Malbec, health, Champagne

“Bring on the cheap malbec!”

? “Apr s moi, le d luge“: Which would be the price of malbec after the collapse of the Argentine peso in January. Malbec is the national grape of Argentina, and its economic crisis will not only force down the price of its malbec, but prices of malbec regardless of origin as well as most cheap red wine. Because that’s how the law of supply and demand works. Or, as Lew Perdue at Wine Industry Insight wrote: “Think Australian invasion before the U.S. screwed up the value of its currency and sent the Aussie dollar soaring.” This is another example of why it’s so difficult to predict when wine prices will rise — too many moving parts to take into account. How can a company charge more for ts California grocery store merlot when the competition is dumping something similar, like malbec, in the U.S. thanks to a currency flop?

? How much did all that wine really hurt? Englishman Chris Chataway, one of the world’s great distance runners in the 1950s and who helped Roger Bannister break the four-minute mile in 1954, died in January. His New York Times obituary reported that Chataway ran a 5:48 mile when he was 64, 41 years later, but wasn’t entirely satisfied with the effort. One possible explanation: Chataway told a friend he had smoked 400 pounds of tobacco and drank more than 7,000 liters of wine (almost 10,000 bottles) since the 1954 race. Which demonstrates that he was not only a world-class runner, but a pretty funny fellow who enjoyed his wine, and which is also why this is blog-worthy despite the ban of health-related wine news.

? The power of price: Asda, the British grocery store chain, wasn’t selling much of its private label Pierre Darcys Champagne over the holidays. So it cut the price from 24.25 to 10 (from about US$40 to US$17). No surprise what happened next, is there? A British trade magazine reports that the supermarket sold almost 8 million worth (about $US13.4 million) of Pierre Darcys in the 12 weeks ending Jan. 4. That made the brand the fifth-best selling Champagne in Britain over the holidays, beating top names like Piper-Heidsieck and Taittinger — despite being sold only at one retailer. This, of course, is the other component in wine pricing: How do we account for the power of consumers?