Happy Friday, everyone! Malbecs have been making their way into my shopping cart lately. As I’m not entirely sure what the heck a Malbec is, or if I enjoy them, I thought I’d turn to my handy-dandy EVERYTHING GUIDE TO WINE by Peter Alig, the Wine Educator at Robert Mondavi Winery (or at least, he was when the book was published).
Peter says that Malbec is the fifth of the five noble Bordeaux varieties, but heck – the grapes are finicky in their native land of France, and usually fall ill to some disease or another which makes planting that grape a risky business, indeed. But apparently Argentina has taken up some of France’s slack, with California also sticking its toe into Malbec (eh – so to speak, lol). The Malbec grape is known “for its density, dark fruit, and backbone of tannins” according to Peter Alig. It’s also used primarily as a blending grape in France and California.
I managed to find two under ten dollars – let me tell you about them.
Don Miguel Gascon Malbec 2010 Mendoza, Argentina Alcohol 13.9% by volume $9.99 at Fresh & Easy Markets
On the Label: “Since 1884, the wines of Don Miguel Gascon have been recognized for the rich, smooth flavors that come from Argentina’s Mendoza wine region. High altitude vineyards situated along the Cordillera of the Andes Mountains produce full mature grapes for this classic Malbec. It is full bodied and elegant with soft, round tannins, layered with favors of blackberry, blueberry, dark cherry, and a hint of mocha.” Visit the winery here.
My Take: For me, this is a young wine. It’s still really bright, and the tannins are a bit harsh. I’ll be keeping an eye out for it, though, next year; hopefully that aging will have smoothed out the bite and kept the nicely juicy flavors.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ But it’ll be better in a year.
Red Rock Winery Malbec Reserve 2010 Healdsburg, California Alcohol 13.6% by Volume Regularly $11.99; on sale at Vons for $8.39.
On the Label: “Inspired by the hand stacked rocks that help you find your way along a trail, RED ROCK Winery wants to inspire you to Find True Balance. Our winemaker believes that “Making a great wine is all about finding balance. It’s about fitting the fruit characteristics together in a harmonious way, so that no single element overpowers another.” In our Malbec, ripe berry aromas yield to fresh flavors of boysenberry, currants, and cherries creating a smooth wine that is truly balanced.”
My Take: Okay, I confess. Once I read that this winery is all about Find(ing) True Balance, I giggled the rest of the way through the label. If you drink wine, inevitably your balance will leave you at some point. Even a sip or two on an empty stomach (MAINLY for us FEMALES) can send you reeling a bit. So, yeah. That struck me as truly (unintentionally) hilarious. These people seriously need a normal person to check their writing. Just saying.
Oh yeah – about the wine. Young. Meh. Not bad, just nothing to get too excited about. If I’m drinking reds, I prefer Pinot Noirs or Zinfandels. So…maybe this will be better in 2013?
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ Note: Their website says that the 2009 was blended with other grapes for more depth. If you can find it, try that one first.
That’s it today folks. My back is killing me and I’ve still got edits to do. While you’re here, check out Demon Soul and the Caine Brothers Series page of my website – reviews are up, too.
Remember, this is all just my opinion and will be colored by how many political calls I’ve dodged, whether or not I’ve donated blood in the past week, and if my cat is meowing to be fed. Your taste buds will differ.
Thanks for stopping by – and remember to Drink Responsibly!
Welcome back to Wine Friday! It’s Memorial Day weekend and you’ll probably have something on the grill at some point, unless it’s still snowing/raining where you live. I’m currently loving the So Cal sunshine! So let’s get to it.
Talking about wine…It cracks me up to read Food & Wine Magazine, and see what they recommend to drink. The May 2011 issue touts “discovering fantastic pinot noir” on the cover. As it turns out, that article is about some great winemaker in Italy making Patagonian Pinot Noir. Not, I think, something I’ll find at Vons for under $10.
Looking further in the magazine, I think maybe I’m going to get lucky – there’s an article on page 70 about “Finding Tasty Wine on a Public-TV Budget”, so I head over there to check it out.
The article is well written but I skim it, looking for the prices…aHA! Found them! To my surprise, all the wines are at the $15 or lower price range. Hmmm. There’s a 2009 Bibi Graetz Bianco Di Casamatta for $11 – apparently it’s a vibrant, citrusy Vermentino.
Um. What? Any wine that makes me think of rats and cockroaches isn’t on my radar (Vermentino – vermin – get it? lol…).
The next one is a 2008 Argiolas Perdera at $12, from the Monica grape (who knew?), and this is a juicy red that’s now grown in Sardinia. Ooookay.
Well now here’s one that I understand. More or less. It’s a 2008 Michele Chiarlo Le Orme Barbera D’Asti for $12. This is an aromatic, berry-rich wine, which according to the author has a fantastic price tag.
Okay now I’m just tired, lol! I’m a busy woman. I pick up my wines at the grocery store, and I search out those well under $10 a bottle. Am I the only one? Don’t think so. All the above wines can be found in several NY City wine shops which is great if you live in NY City. We don’t have a wine shop where I live. Oh, WAIT – we DO! BevMo! Okay, consider this whine cut short.
Still…when I get dinner, and need to pick up wine to go with, I really don’t want to hop on the freeway at rush hour and question the BevMo staff about wines made from the Monica grape that are in my price range. I buy 95% of my wine at my local grocery store, so getting a well-made wine for as little as possible is always my goal.
(Before I go further, I do adore Trader Joe’s and still shop there for wine, but I outgrew Two Buck Chuck about ten years ago. I still try $2 bottles of wine, though. You never know when you’ll hit on a winner.)
I have a definite go-to wine that I buy when I don’t want to think and don’t want to spend over $6. My go-to wine is the Smoking Loon Pinot Noir. It’s usually $5.99 at Vons, sometimes it goes up to $6.99 – but even when it’s NOT on “special”, it’s a $9.99 bottle of wine – at least, it is in California.
As a matter of fact, when I go wine tasting up in Paso Robles, if a wine isn’t considerably better in my mouth than a Smoking Loon Pinot, I won’t buy it. I really don’t want to spend the money, especially now.
Why Smoking Loon Pinot Noir? It’s consistent over vintages. It’s an easy sipping wine that goes with a lot of different foods. It’s got depth, flavor, and a nice lingering taste (plus, goes great with either a campfire or at the beach). It’s perfect with an elegant chicken dish, vegetarian offerings, or hamburgers and dogs off the grill. It’s unpretentious, a nice bottle of wine. Kind of like the unspoiled girl next door.
Okay – I understand that I’m not talking of the taste of the wine, the aromas, the flavors that I sense – I guess because my tastebuds will vary from yours. I will include those things when I write while I sip, and that’s not the case currently – but always remember, when it comes to wine? Your mileage may vary.
Oops, and I forgot! I rate the Smoking Loon Pinot Noir as ~Very Drinkable~ mainly because it has been consistent over the past five years. Plus – I just discovered that Smoking Loon is owned by the Sebastiani family, and has been in existence since 2000. So there are their bona fides!
Anyway – to further my wine education (which began many years ago with a trip to Napa Valley), I will continue to read Food & Wine Magazine (as they highlight expensive wine and fouffy food, for the most part, also NOT CHEAP to make, tho in their defense they never promised CHEAP dishes, now did they?) and stop by at BevMo for tastings. Plus have tastings with friends – that way, you get more opinions than just mine.
In the meantime, if you’ve got a wine you like that’s under $10 a bottle (and I’m not talking box or jug wines – I’ll get to those in a year or so), give me a holler!
Coming next week (probably): Three different Chardonnays, under $10
P.S. Oh, one thing I should mention – these wines are mostly grown in California, and I live in California – so my prices will be lower than yours if you’re in the Central states or on the other coast. I can tell you that every time I visit my friend Tammy in Snowmass, Colorado, I am shocked at the wine prices – one bottle of Smoking Loon there is around $15!