Friday, March 6, 2009

Everyone is crazy on Argentina

It really is incredible how the everyday drinker latches onto a grape. In the US, Merlot had a good run (with plenty still on the shelves) and gave way to Pinot Noir after Sideways knocked over a few bottles. Now the grape of the moment: Malbec!

Even though I think this is a fad that will one day be replaced by another fad (although it may stick around… when are people going to leave White Zinfandel and Chardonnay?), there is one major difference: Malbec from Argentina is damn tasty.

There is a lot of wine flooding in from Argentina these days. In fact, Argentina is now the fourth largest importer of wine into the US, behind Italy, Australia, and France. However, more than half of that wine is bulk wine.

What is bulk wine? Let’s think about how wine in brought into the U.S. for a moment. When shipping overseas, most producers put their wines on very large tankers. They have to bottle the wines, put the appropriate labels on them (do not get me started on labeling laws), put them in boxes, and then deliver them to the appropriate port where a ship will take the wines on board and drop them off in a port in the U.S. where customs the opens the boxes and looks to make sure all importing laws are being upheld.

Have you ever lifted a box of wine? It is heavy, which adds cost in the shipping. Well, what if you decide to simply put all the wine into large plastic containers and bottle the wine wherever you decide to send it. That would save money on shipping and you can bring more wine in at the same time. The problem is that the wines almost never have the interest and the life that a bottled wine has. You can find bulk wine from every country, especially right now when producers are doing everything they can to keep prices down.

But, I digress. We are talking about the good stuff here and there is not much better than the Bodegas Salentein Reserve Malbec 2006 from the Uco Valley in Mendoza, Argentina. This wine was very good, with a beautiful deep velvety purple color. There was a very nice vibrant freshness in the wine when I stuck my nose in the glass, accented by ripe red fruits. The vibrancy continued in my mouth where I found some cherry, black raspberry and cranberry flavors. Towards the end of the finish there was some nice spicy richness to it.

I looked up what the experts said, and I found that Jay Miller at the Wine Advocate gave this wine an 89. Finally, a wine I can post on the 89 project! Michael Schachner at the Wine Enthusiast gave this wine a 90. Wine Spectator gave this wine a 75. I was confused because I did not think the wine publications posted anything that was given less than an 85. When I saw the notes it looked like the Wine Spectator received a few bad bottles when they were doing their review. A real shame, because I think this is a great wine. On I found this wine between $17 and $22.
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