How does the $10 Vallobera Pago Malarina get real oak? It’s all about the appellation
How important are land prices in determining the cost of wine? Consider the Vallobera Pago Malarina, a tempranillo blend from Spain’s Rioja, one of the world’s great wine regions. It costs $10.
How can this be, if Rioja is so good? There is almost no $10 wine from Napa or even Sonoma anymore, and one of the biggest differences is the price of land. Vineyard property is much more expensive in those California appellations, so the cost of land pushes up the price of the bottle even if the grapes aren’t that great.
On the other hand, the Vallobera Pago Malarina ($10, purchased, 13.5%) benefits from Rioja’s lower costs. In fact, you get quite a bit for your money – six months in real oak and no winemaking tricks. If this isn’t the best Rioja I’ve ever had, and if the grapes aren’t of the highest quality, the difference in land cost means you get $10 worth of wine from the Valobera. This same quality might be $18 or $20 in parts of California.
Look for red berries, since it is from Rioja, an almost leathery finish, and dusty tannins. Again, not the most elegant wine in the world, but perfectly acceptable for hamburgers, takeout pizza, and a glass of red wine when you’re in the mood.