2005 Amaicha Bonarda

Price: $1.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Goldschmidt Vineyards

What They Said:

Per Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer “Amaicha wines are named after a small village in the northern Argentinean province of Tucuman. “The indigenous people of this town have a special reverence for what they call Pachamama, or Mother Earth, and they celebrate their admiration for the earth’s goodness with both festivals and a way of life that respects the elements around them – Earth, Moon, Sun & Water. That respect extends to the cultivation of the grapes that are used to create Amaicha wines.”

Amaicha Bonarda “is a red wine that originates in Italy, but is actually the most widely grown grape in Argentina. It produces a lush, medium-bodied wine with ripe plum and blackberry flavors. This one’s terrific for cocktails and equally appropriate for serving with pasta or even meatloaf.”

What I Think:

This wine showed up at Trader Joe’s sometime later in the year in 2006, in my pre-blogging days. As I had a few bottles of this when visiting Argentina earlier in the year I grabbed a bottle. I must have let it sit for a while but when I got around to opening it I was extremely impressed. Upon returning to TJ’s and finding it out of stock it appears others were as well. So when heading out shopping to get some more Rocking Horse the other day I turn the corner and low and behold, what do I see? This wine is back on the shelves, not sure if it is the same vintage or not, and grab two bottles. At this price you can always cook with it if need be.

Before we get to the tasting notes I did some investigation on this bottle. First off the grape, it hails from northeastern Italy’s Piedmont region and has a Croatian lineage. It is most similar to Barbera and is the most widely planted grape in Argentina. It is known for making wines that are generally light, fruity, and immediately drinkable. Another note on this bottle is that it says that a portion of the profits are used to build schools in the region where this wine is grown. I couldn’t afford to hire a private detective but after growing the grapes, harvesting them, making the wine, bottling it and then shipping it to the states how much of my $2 can be left as profits?

I didn’t want to make the same mistake as last time so as soon as I got home I popped the cork. And I was not disappointed. On the nose there is a nice mix of fruit and barrel aromas. On the tongue it starts with light fruit over a drier backbone. As it moves to the mid-palate the dark fruits, brambly berries, come to the front before finishing with a light coat of tannins. A bit on the lighter side this is an excellent quaffer and perfect for any red wine foods! For $2 this is a steal. I’ll be right back; I’m going to get a case.

Rating: Bulk Buy

2006 Terrazas de los Andes Malbec

Price: $8.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Schieffelin & Co

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “Its deep dark violet color prepares you for the wonderful aromatics of this value-packed Malbec. On the nose mingle blackberries, plums, strawberries and more violets, while the palate is soft and refreshing, with a concentrated fruit core along with licorice notes and savory tannins. Oh so easy to drink, too!”

And the wine spectator had this to say; “A fresh, easygoing style, with raspberry and briar notes backed by a touch of toast. Drink now. 44,000 cases imported.” – James Molesworth, June 4, 2007 (85 points, $10)

What I Think:

I had this wine with some friends, turkey tacos and a bottle of 2006 Alamos Malbec which was the first wine from this evening to be written up. For this to make the most sense probably best to check that one first.

In comparison to the Alamos this wine was much more complex. On opening the bottle this wine was a little closed. You could get traces of darker fruit but the tannins and spices were more forward. On initial taste the palate reflected much of the same, you could see the fruit was there but was having difficulty making it to the forefront. We opened both of these together and sampled side by side and I believe we were all unanimously in favor of the Alamos in the early going. As this started to get some air and begin to open that tune would begin to change. The fruit began to come through showing layers of darkness, at times it seemed like blackberry and then more like raspberry. The tannins began to fade a bit and a much better integrated wine started to appear. The Alamos was beginning to lose its faithful. By the end of the night we had a split decision. Ideally you can take both of these home and try this exercise on your own. I know I’d like to give it another try. If forced to decide you can’t go wrong with either, but if this is your choice make sure to let it get some air. I always hate finding myself over half way through a bottle before I realize what I really have.

Rating: Buy It

2006 Alamos Malbec

Price: $7.99 @ Friend/Gift imported by Billington Imports

What They Said:

Per the winery “The 2006 Alamos Malbec presents a deep, opaque violet color with purple hues. The nose is intense and complex, with ripe black fruits, sweet spice and a touch of violets. The mouthfeel is sweet and supple, with black cherry and cassis flavors mingled with spicy black pepper and a touch of leather. The finish is long and persistent with soft, sweet tannins.

José Galante, Chief Winemaker”

What I Think:

A friend brought over a couple of bottles of Malbec when we were making turkey tacos last week. I have been fond of the varietal since having such an amazing time in the Mendoza region a few years back. These wines are generally speaking good from both a taste and value perspective, as these bottles once again proved. If you are interested in traveling internationally one of the few places you can get some bang for your buck is Argentina, at least for the time being. Better hurry!

On opening this bottle you can tell this wine has a no nonsense, straight forward kind of style. The fruit on the nose is strong, dark and very forward, though you can smell some spice and get hints of the dryness lurking in the background. In the mouth you get more of the same, big fruit on the palate that slowly fades before giving ways to hints of pepper and a bit of dryness. The finish is nice and smooth with limited tannins and of decent length.

In comparison to the 2006 Terrazas de los Andes Malbec that we also had this evening it was certainly the lighter of the two, much better immediately after opening and without food. As the other bottle began to get some air the gap started closing and by the end of the night it was a toss up between the two. This leads me to think of this as not a complex wine. The downside, if there is one may be you have to be careful when pairing with food. On the upside this is a wine that is nice all on its own plus there is no need to worry about letting it get air because what you see is what you get. I enjoy having these types of wine around when I have finished a bottle but would prefer to have one more glass before calling it a night. You can pop the cork on this, pour it in the glass and start drinking. This is an enjoyable, easy drinker great to have around for all occasions.

Rating: Buy It

2005 Valentin “V” Malbec

Price: $5.02 @ BevMo imported by Quintessential LLC (retails at $9.99 a bottle)

What They Said:

Per BevMo “Explosive and impressive, the bold, black-fruited ’04 Valentin “V” Malbec is a first-class red wine; packed and long on the palate, this one deserves a big, spicy beef dish.”

What I Think:

Of all the pairs of wine I bought as part of the 5 cent sale this has been the one I experienced the biggest change with from bottle to bottle. Still don’t find it explosive but you do get deep black fruit on the nose and in the mouth where it holds for sometime before fading to a minty, tannic (or should I say peppery) finish. Most Malbec’s I try at the price point, meaning the half off not the retail $9.99, have little of these characteristics that are common in all the finer bottlings. Wish it was at TJ’s I don’t make it to BevMo often enough to take advantage of it, then again at $9.99 I wouldn’t likely want to. Just checked the site again and post nickel sale they have it marked down to $6.99 starting to see how this all works. That makes it buyable but I’m not running. Hope TJ’s gets a good Malbec soon…

Rating: Buy It

2005 Valentin “V” Malbec

Price: $5.02 @ BevMo imported by Quintessential LLC (retails at $9.99 a bottle)

What They Said:

Per BevMo “Explosive and impressive, the bold, black-fruited ’04 Valentin “V” Malbec is a first-class red wine; packed and long on the palate, this one deserves a big, spicy beef dish.”

What I Think:

Yip, 5c sale again. Would have to disagree with the assessment of explosive. This is a ho-hum effort. Drinkable but not memorable. Will try it again with the 2nd bottle soon.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2006 Zolo Torrontes

Price: $9.99 @ Friend/Gift imported by Vino del Sol

What They Said:

Per BevMo “Bright and fragrant, the finely crafted ’05 Zolo Torrontes serves up lots of ripe fruit along with an excellent texture on the palate; long and lacy; great with Tex-Mex dishes.”

What I Think:

Some good friends are looking for wedding wines and brought this one over for dinner. When our first saw the label I wasn’t all that interested as my experience with Torrontes in the past had left much to be desired. Boy was I surprised! This was a really nice wine. A bit sweet in the mouth but it paired very well with the Swiss cheese they brought along. This might be able to fill the role of a Riesling or sweeter Gewurtz as well. I’ll definitely grab a bottle or two of this if I see it.

Rating: Buy It