Archive for ‘Malbec’

March 25, 2022

Coterie Cabernet Franc & Malbec, 2018

For years we’ve written some variation on how exceptional the wine is in the Cape region and how it rivals many much more established wine regions, and how dire and uninspired the South African selection is at BC Liquor (and bemoaned the discrepancy).  This is more of the same.  Despite, I must point out, being “BC Select” meaning the consultants chose it as a cellar selection.

Where the CF is, where the barnyard funk is, that remained elusive.  The Malbec shone through, but not in a substantive way, just heavy, with a thud.  It drank like a decent red wine, but only.  Oh gosh, that sounds so petty, but in a way this wine is forgettable from the first sip.  Our notes were, and I quote in total, “juicy,” “where’s the CF?,” “bland without redeeming features,” and “not too memorable.”  Not a scribble on aroma, the palate, or afters.

We drink a lot of mediocre wine.  A lot.  I mean we shop twice a week at BC Liquor stores, what do you expect?  But we don’t post about it all.  We try to find redeeming wines and give then a good shake, we try to focus on the positive, take the Tony Robbins Louise Hay Goop route and just find the gorgeousness and determination in every drop.  We appreciate the hard work of producing a decent bottle.  But God is there a sea of middle of the road plonk on the shelves.

The private wine stores regularly stock Graceland Cab Sauv and when you’ve won the lottery there’s Hamilton Russell Chardonnay, South Africa is not a middle of the road producer, but it’s just a shame that in Cape Town you drink Bordeaux style red that knocks your socks off for half the price of stuff like this.

Price: $28 at BC Liquor.

Market Liquidity: What did I read over on Goop?  Be stronger than your excuses.  Dear BC Liquor: I will try.

December 6, 2021

La Frenz 2018 Malbec and La Frenz 2018 Merlot

La Frenz is having a moment.  Awards and glory.  Good on them.  We’ve been getting a mixed case, annually, for over a decade; they deserve some acclaim.  Somewhere along the line we went “off” Burrowing Owl Chardonnay and transitioned to La Frenz.  But here’s the rub: We got a bit put off by the rise in prices.  And now LF, like most of the BC Okanagan is, well, you know, expensive if you’re not there on the day of release.

Here are two worthy reds.  You won’t be able to get them from the vineyard directly, and if you source them at private stores you will pay in the high 30s before tax.

On the Malbec, which scored a silver at the Canadian Wine Championships in 2021, I will say it’s gloriously good.  If this doesn’t encapsulate Malbec, nothing does.  It’s berry forward, very berry forward, with that dark, smokiness characteristic of the varietal.  A big whopping joy of red.  If you bought it at $26 from LF you scored big time.  If you bought it at a wine store for $36 you thought “Why?”  Comparative South American Malbecs litter the BC Liquor shelves at $10 and $15 cheaper; and are equally if not more satisfying. (The last time we loved their Malbec this much was the 2016, which we blogged about here.)

The Merlot is something of an enigma.  It definitely is lacking charm or curb appeal or whatever the average Merlot drinker wants when they screw off the top.  This seems rough around the edges, cedar shavings and earthy pith, very sharp on the palate, and the professional reviewer phrase “gorgeous tannins” just doesn’t apply.

So you have the little winery that could and then did, sold out inventory, amped up prices for what’s left on private shelves, and in our minds too much hoopla.  Here’s a big hats off salute to success at LF.  Full stop.

Prices: $36 at Marquis for the Malbec and $38 at Liberty for the Merlot. Gosh, that 2016 Malbec was $24!!!

Market Liquidity: Join their wine club, or take a pass.

August 31, 2020

Culmina No 0006 Unfiltered “Jeunes Vignes” Malbec, 2016

Astonishing. 

First of all, Malbec is not what most people think of, gravitate towards, or intentionally set out to buy when they want a BC red.  Then to discover that not only is this wine phenomenally tasty, lip smackingly appealing on the palate, and reasonably food friendly, and a Malbec, my gosh, sleeper of the summer.

You could drink this melancholy, listening to Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou play The Homeless Wanderer.

Or, you could drink this toasted, to the garage rock sounds of Chevrolet Van by the Nude Party. It swings either way.

Or you may search high and low trying to source a bottle, and come up empty handed, and that’s how it goes with a lot of evocative BC wines.  The search, I would suggest, is worth the effort.  Two bottles of this will cost you about the same as one bottle of Hypothesis from a private Vancouver wine retailer, and might give you twice the pleasure.  It is certainly a social red, not overtly endearing like Merlot but with just enough edge in the structure to lend a curiosity and oomph.

Price: $29 from the vineyard.  Get it by the half case.

Market Liquidity: An everyday red that drinks like something meant to impress.

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July 22, 2020

Trapiche Terroir Series Malbec, 2014

Trapiche Terroir Series Malbec, 2014

The Trapiche TSM sells for $46 before tax.  There is no way. No way.  But it was $10 off recently at BC Liquor, and we picked up a bottle.  Light up a Cohibo.

 

Big, juicy, plummy on the front with a back end loaded up in tobacco leaf, medicine cabinet and nuanced spice.  Just hugely appealing, and umpteen times better than the Malbec we often drink when we feel like Malbec which is, you know, rare.  (We referenced a Difficult People Malbec joke last year, here; hey Arthur Tack: Stuff it.)

 

Just goes to show what a Malbec could be.

 

Price: A way, way, way too expensive $46 if not on sale.

 

Market Liquidity: Pack leader (in its pack).

February 25, 2020

Vaglio Chango Red Blend, 2015

Vaglio Chango Red Blend, 2015

From the cellar: Miracle in Mendoza. An Argentinian red blend that Gismondi recommended to lie down.  So we did.

 

It took a while to open (from sharp to warm and fuzzy in about 20 minutes) but was delectable with some air.  Not sure it had anywhere further to go, but as of now, five years in, muted tannins, soothing woodsy oak, and prominent herby notes melded with dark fruits. Lots of texture, the Malbec countered by Tannat and Cab Sauv. Puts the lush in, er, lush.

 

It lacked the diversity and kapow of the vintage Rioja we were gifted over Christmas but it was gorgeous nonetheless.

 

We lay down but one and this is no longer in the BC Liquor catalogue.  So it goes.

 

Price: $23.50 at BC Liquor in 2018.

 

Market Liquidity: Suave and debonair like a David Niven anecdote.

January 8, 2020

Jean-Luc Baldes Clos Triguedina ‘Probus’, Cahors, 2005

Jean-Luc Baldes Clos Triguedina Probus, Cahors, 2005

From the cellar: And I thought Ginger Rogers had legs.  Yowza.

 

The first thing to remark upon is this is definitely a Malbec.  The second thing to say is this is definitely a Malbec.  However, and this is probably why wine drinkers like wine, this is absolutely not the coarse, crude or edgy new world Malbec we’ve come to expect at BC Liquor stores.  This was velvet.  This was a Liberace cape.  This was satin sheets in The Godfather.

 

Dark, dark dark, like it has a non-photosynthetic metabolic pathway to be a living thing without light.  Prune plum and chocolate, a hint of mint on the finish.  Believe it or not, 15 years in, light tannins; although it was our opinion this bottle had nowhere to go, it was peak ready.

 

Remarkable.  And then some.

 

Price: No idea.  I was lovingly gifted a cellar pick.  More recent vintages can be found in BC Liquor for the best part of a C-note.

 

Market Liquidity: As Futurama’s Hubert J. Farnsworth might put it with his contradictory catchphrases, “Good news everybody, a simple Cahors.  Wait, this is not a simple Cahors at all!”

 

October 3, 2019

Zuccardi Q Malbec, 2016

zuccardi Q malbec 2016

Malbec is not our thing (in a major way).  And this Malbec, despite its serious points credential (witness the proudly displayed Robert Parker seal of approval), is really not our cup of tea.  There’s a line in the sitcom Difficult People where they tell an embarrassing story about Arthur, the PBS WASP drone husband of Julie, that one time he ordered a Malbec. Laugh if you get it I guess.

 

But here’s the rub: Zuccardi makes some good wines and this wine is ludicrously food friendly.  The Q series is not top of the line Zuccardi but we’ve had it several times with different foods and while it’s not a star varietal it has a blank canvas food friendly aspect which never ceases to surprise.  There is no supercharged oak.  We drank it this week with Japanese beef stew, heavy in ginger, Mirin, squash, soy and stock.  It was ideal.  Who would of thunk?  But a bit dull as a sipper.

 

Price: A reasonable $28 at private wine shops, give or take.

 

Market Liquidity: Leonard Zelig-esque.

 

Oh and a link here to our over-the-top Zuccardi tasting night in Buenos Aires, a few years back, at El Baqueno.

arthur tack difficult people

Arthur Tack has a drinkypoo

February 22, 2019

Santa Julia Reserva Malbec, 2017

It’s young.  It’s not expensive. It’s littered with pointster stickers.  And yet?  It delivers.

 

With some air and time and despite its youth this is just surprisingly good value, gorgeously expressive of Malbec, tasty, tangy, forward, food friendly, and easy on the pocket book.  Who woulda thunk it?

 

Price: $17 at BC Liquor

 

Market Liquidity: A minor miracle.

December 23, 2018

Chateau Les Croiseille Calcaire, 2014

We had a selection of Gismondi picks for a week away, most of which one way or another proved disappointing, but this was definitely the highlight of the lot.  It’s not a grabber, I probably wouldn’t even offer it to guests, despite how wonderfully it opens up and the aromatic eucalyptus slash pepper awash in luscious fruit; no, this is more of a quiet night in wine, some leftover prime rib with vegetables, a glass to finish off, heck let’s skip dessert and just drink the whole bottle.

 

There is something very old school about it, I didn’t bother to search out the pointster reviews, but my hunch is that it’s a little pedestrian and not quite oak and maraschino forward-enough for the Robert Parker crowd.  A delectable 13% alcohol.

 

Price: $33 at BC Liquor, if you can find it.

 

Market Liquidity: When’s the last time you heard someone in BC order a glass of Cahors?  Nice change from New World.

November 17, 2018

Vino Cobos Felino Malbec, 2016

The worst Malbec is somewhere between chalk and unripe raspberry.  The best is like cherries jubilee, creamy and rich and assertive in its juiciness.  This is neither.

 

A slight but persistent bitterness overrides any enjoyment.  The predominant fruitiness is cough syrup.  The spicy white pepper finish is plainly unpleasant.

 

Moderately food friendly, forgettable as a sipper, but apparently a pointster star.  Go figure.

 

Price: A most appealing $21 at Everything Wine.

 

Market Liquidity: Sometimes, once is always enough.