Archive for ‘Malbec’

November 7, 2017

Amalaya Malbec, 2015

It’s been a few years since we picked up a bottle of Amalaya.  Why?  I have no idea.  It’s an inexpensive extremely palatable crowd pleaser that even pleases the pointsters.  From Salta, Argentina’s version of Atacama, it’s a dark, luscious sipper with a thick, balsamic feel on the tongue, and some charred chocolate and licorice on the finish.  Readily available across BC, the online description touts raspberry, graphite and black olives, none of which popped for us.  That said, this is spectacular “BC value” if you know what I mean.


Price: $22 at BC Liquor.


Market Liquidity: Like running into an old friend on the street.

July 26, 2016

TintoNegro Limestone Block Malbec, 2012

TintoNegro Limestone Block Malbec, 2012

92 points.  Seriously?  Someone is losing their marbles.


Price: $32.50 at Everything Wine.


Market Liquidity: An easy to drink red.

October 3, 2015

Trivento Golden Reserve, Malbec, 2012

This is an incredible 89 point wine, an OK 90 point wine and a mediocre 91 point wine. But who am I to argue with the pointsters? Gismondi went so far as to call it “truly hedonistic.” Cool yer jets there!

Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec 2012

Let’s all take a deep breath and agree that this is a wonderful bottle of Malbec, evocative of the varietal, extremely easy to drink, and unlikely to offend anyone. The dense fruit flavours mingle with a charred burnt chocolate that is both tangy and soft. Splurge for a dinner party. As a host gift the hosts will thank you to your face and later behind your back and probably invite you back hoping for more. But it is a bit like a joke in the Simpsons in 2015; the same joke you heard 20 years ago. The WS has been lauding this sort of red for too long to be taking its 91 points seriously. This wine may not be boring, but it sure as heck isn’t interesting.


Price: A sensational $23 value at BC Liquor no less. On that score alone I agree with the WS.


Market Liquidity: How to impress without being impressive.

89 Points and loving it

89 Points and loving it

December 10, 2014

Punto Final Malbec, 2013

punto final

Flat, sour, unmemorable, although not undrinkable. We got it down.  But probably the most disappointing red in a few months (especially if you’ve followed some of the spectacular reds we’ve blogged this fall).


Price: $16 at BC Liquor, $20 at Kitsilano Wine Cellar


Market Liquidity: It’s an also ran.

October 17, 2013

Amalaya, Hess Salta Blend

108Exactly what we are on the hunt for: Hugely satisfying reds under $20.  While mostly Malbec, this gorgeous blend, if a little simple, is an Argentinian red from the up and coming Salta region (or at least, in BC, up and becoming available).  Paired perfect with meat (pork) as well as cheese and eggs.  Soft on the palate, none of the stinging tannins that often come with Malbec.  As usual, we love blends, we love change in our pocket, and South America comes through with a lush, soft red, lingering tobacco, anise and moderate fruit.  Goes chocolate and cinnamon by the dregs.


Kudos for a) being readily available across the province and b) 14% alcohol when most of its kin are 14.5% and higher and c) priced below less palatable BC reds.


Price: $19.99 at BC Liquor.


Market Liquidity: Easy to like, easier to drink.

April 10, 2013

J Bouchon Reserve Especial, Malbec 2010

007Chilean Malbec.  Seriously!  Yet another surprise in our two weeks in Chile.   It started with so much spice we thought of celery seed.  But with air that passed.  It had a deep licorice and dark berry nose.  It opened up beautifully and had notes of what Robert Parker loves, that oaky cherry nuance that sits on your tongue like butter.  It finished with just a whiff of vanilla.  It sipped beautifully.  With food it worked OK, quite well with meat but not so much with vegetables and cheese.


If this is what the Chileans could do with Malbec, en masse, watch out Argentina.  There is a lot of heft in this wine and it could go places Mendoza has only dreamed of.  But then again, try finding a bottle.


Price: Expensive in a restaurant, about $35.  But worth it.


Market Liquidity: The dark horse that takes it by a nose.

March 27, 2013

San Pedro de Yacochuya Malbec, 2010

002First wine we’ve had from Salta (as opposed to Mendoza).  A most complex and satisfying red.  Smooth and abrasive, but not jarring.  Deep and complex.  Easy to drink but with a little jolt.  Food friendly.  Maybe not as lingering and thoughtful as you’d expect, but very, very good.  One of those surprise reds that takes you aback ( a little, anyway).


Know nothing about this vineyard, little about the wines from Salta (although malaria is prevalent now in the area!), and can’t say for certain I’ve ever even had a glass from the area.  Nice surprise.  We were told it was a joint venture with the esteemed Etchart family.


Price: Expensive, I think, given how reasonable wine is here: $35 in a restaurant (or, what every bottle of everyday plonk costs in a Vancouver restaurant).


Market Liquidity: Depends.  Let’s say you find it in Canada, and let’s say you find it under $30, then it’s a must must must buy.  At under $40 a treat.  At under $50 there are other options.

March 27, 2013

Trumpeter Reserve Malbec, 2009

trumpeterStill in Argentina and, sorry to report, the worst bottle we’ve had so far.  Which, ironically or not, is better than almost all the Malbec readily available under $30 at the BC Liquor back home.  If you travel, and if your travels take you to wine destinations, you might find that a) realistically, there’s a longstanding tradition that most countries keep their best and export the rest, b) you are victim of a wine conspiracy, say a not very picky specialist at BC Liquor is selecting all the Malbec or c) the tax in BC is so high that decent wine here, Argentina, is in the stratosphere back home.  I would hazard a guess that reality is a mix of three.


The Trumpeter wasn’t expensive but, relatively speaking, wasn’t cheap, and although it drank nicely it had a tiny bit of the coarseness, the edge that I associate with lesser Malbec.  It lacked the forward fruit of other wines we’ve been drinking, even by the glass, even the ubiquitous Alamos which is as unavoidable in Buenos Aires as Budweiser at a football game.


Price: $23 Canadian, in a trendy restaurant (maybe it’s the “in” label).


Market Liquidity: Sorry Charley (if you remember the Starkist reference).

charlie tuna

March 25, 2013

Riglos Quinto Malbec, 2011

036We went to a cash only restaurant and had to carefully decide on the wine as we hadn’t stuffed our pocket books with bills.  In the end we chose the Quinto Malbec, a bit of a concern as it was on the young side.  But no problems there:  Smoother than a baby’s bottom.  Drank with both pork shoulder and ravioli as fine as a Pinot.  Shocked us a bit it was so, how would you put it, tender?  Only 87 over at the RP establishment but at the price I would put it much higher on the point scale.  It did not have the levels, depth or maturity of a finer bottle but it served the purpose and was wonderfully satisfying nonetheless.  If you could score this in Canada in the $20 mark it’s a no brainer, buy a case.  Not available, unfortunately, at the BC Liquor stores.


Price: Equivalent to $24 Canadian (in a restaurant!).


Market Liquidity: Simple, but not a simpleton.

March 24, 2013

Zuccardi: Alma 4 Pinot Chardonnay; Series A Chardonnay Viognier 2011; Q Chardonnay 2011; Z Blend 2009; Malamado Viognier 2009

Continuing the week in Buenos Aires…

We took a ten course tasting menu paired with five Zuccardi wines at El Baqueano, a superb restaurant in the (somewhat dodgy) San Telmo neighbourhood.  The courses went Fernando Rivarola, Porteno, representing EB, and Rodrigo Oliveira, Brazilian, from Mocoto in Sao Paulo.  It was a sort of Iron Chef standoff.  First the good news: The food was beyond description.  Now the bad news: The wine was hit and miss.

zuccardi zeta

Zuccardi isn’t well-represented in BC.  The BC liquor stores carry a so-so Tempranillo.  I think there might be a Torrontes in some of the private stores.  Nothing to write a blog about.  Plus, they make too many “labels” with their A series, their Q series, their Z.  Plus other labels.  It feels like the Tom Ford perfume counter.

We started with their sparkling, a pinot noir/chardonnay blend, vintage 2010.  It seemed a bit pretentious to make it a vintage, “the 2010 Alma 4” versus the “2009” etc.  I would call this a very good Prosecco, enjoyable, social, not much more.

Our second wine was a Series A Chardonnay Viognier blend, 2011.  This would definitely have to be well under $20 for me to take an interest again.  It was lacking depth, rather flat, and not hugely food friendly.  It drank like many house wines drink; like innocuous wine.

The third wine was quite good.  Their Q Chardonnay 2011 hit the glass a tad too cold, but as it warmed it opened up and revealed some delicate butterscotch and pear nuances that perfectly suited some vegetarian mains.  Barrel fermented, not uber new world.

Then the heavy hitter came out.  Ooh la la.  This was a hit.  Following the Chardonnay, the Z Blend, a “mostly Malbec” blend with Cabernet and Tempranillo, was paired with two meat courses.  It was hugely appealing, deeply, wonderfully and even spectacularly food friendly, a gorgeous sipper, and although the oak and purple fruits shone through it didn’t linger too long.  This was served with a braised goat on couscous followed by nandu.

nanduNandu, for those not in the know, is a South American three toed flightless bird akin to ostrich.  The chef had created a roast nandu on a house-made chimichurri, a light salsa, and a potato so special I have to explain it: It looked like a chocolate cube.  It was in fact caramel.  If you cracked the caramel with your knife a “yolk” of truffle oil oozed out.  The sweet, starch and tart all combined superbly.  And the wine carried this off with perfection.  Astonishing considering it was only a 2009.  This is a premium wine of the first order which, unfortunately, I have no idea how to source.  I did find it later at a Buenos
Aires private wine store for the equivalent of $60 CDN.  I figure in
BC, with the duties and taxes all factored in, we’re talking Brunello prices.


We wrapped it up with their Malamado fortified Viognier, 2009.  Most appealing.  A great host offering instead of Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, say.  A little on the heavy side but not a lot to complain about.  It washed down a mango sorbet with aplomb.

Wine aside: If you’re in BA, check out El Baqueano.  It might be your priciest dinner but you won’t regret it.  Oh, and they were very generous with the pouts.

Price: All in, including tax and tip, $100 per.

Market Liquidity: The Zeta stole the show.