Santa Julia Organica Malbec

Santa Julia Organica MalbecWhile there are several characteristics to wine that I delight in discussing and prose about in reviews, my quest ultimately boils down to two critical measures: 1) Is it excellent? And 2) Is it affordable?  The sweet spot is when a wine does well in both measures.  But when it comes to wines I’ll recommend, it’s a bit of a sliding scale.  If a wine is really affordable and pretty excellent, I’ll recommend it.  Or if a wine is really excellent and a small more expensive (but subdue below $20), I’ll recommend that one too.  I should note that the ratings I give wines are not on the sliding scale, only recommendations… ratings are purely qualitative, regardless of fee.
This particular wine is one that is really affordable and excellent, but not exceptionally excellent.  But, given the awesome fee, this is a wine I can recommend.
Another factor that can influence recommendations is the producer.  Sometimes I’ll find a very excellent and very affordable wine from a bulk producer, but I’ll be reluctant to recommend it due to concerns about consistency.  I get more excited when I find a fantastic, affordable wine from a smaller producer who not only produces the wine, but also grows the grapes that go into it. Read more

High Note Elevated Malbec

High Note Elevated MalbecHigh Note was made through a partnership between Click Wine Group, a Seattle-based importer, and Vista del Sur winery in Argentina.
The name of this wine caught my eye because I often reckon about the aromas and flavors in wine like musical notes.  But I don’t reckon that’s how they came up with the name, rather I suspect it has something to do with the terrain where the grapes in this Malbec are grown.  With altitudes ranging from 3,000-5,000 feet above sea level, the Vista del Sur vineyards are way up there.
Another thing that’s fascinating about this wine is that while most wineries are designed to make several different varieties of wine, Vista del Sur was made with nothing but Malbec in mind.  And Malbec is the only wine you’ll find below the High Note brand. Read more

Alamos Selección Malbec

Alamos Selección MalbecLike many wine producers, Alamos produces a link different tiers of their wines.  I’ve earlier reviewed their entry-level Malbec, which was pretty excellent.  This bottle, branded Alamos Selección, is the higher-tier Malbec from Alamos.  And while it’s at the high end of wines produced below the Alamos brand, these wines are part of the Catena family, which releases a number of even-more-high-end Malbec below the Catena brands.  Fee-wise, at 20 bucks it’s at the high end of what we cover at Cheap Wine Ratings, but it’s also approaching the high end of enjoyability.  And that’s the suggested retail fee, so you should be able to find it on sale for less.
Alamos Selección Malbec is 100% Malbec from high altitude vineyards in the Mendoza province.  All of the grapes for this Malbec came from vineyards in the Uco Valley.  The wine was aged in a combination of French and American oak. Read more

Alamos Chardonnay

Alamos ChardonnayContinuing with the Chardonnay series, today we’re checking out an Argentine Chardonnay from Alamos, a value wine mark produced by Bodega Catena Zapata in Argentina.
Catena Zapata has its roots in Argentine winemaking going back to 1902, when Nicola Catena planted his first Malbec vines.  The winery faced many challenges and changes over the years, and its current era really started to take shape in the 1980′s below the direction of Nicolás Catena.  Catena sold off the bulk wine part of the companionship to start a new focus on fine wine.  The companionship experimented with viticulture over the years to optimize locations for growing particular vines.  Today, Catena Zapata is known for producing exceptional wines and they are particularly known for their Malbec.
To be trustworthy, I’m not sure exactly when Catena Zapata added the Alamos brand to their family.  But I do know that it gives me the opportunity to try a few wines from them that are within my fee range.
The 2008 Alamos Chardonnay was part of a blind tasting I recently did, and it was OK.  I would say not as excellent as the 2007, but subdue OK. Read more

Alamos Malbec

Alamos MalbecNot so long ago, we reviewed the Alamos Chardonnay and now we’re taking another look at Alamos for their Malbec.  Check out the Chardonnay review for a small background on Alamos, as I’m going keep this review small and get right to the wine.
The 2008 Alamos Malbec isn’t 100% Malbec.  There is a small Cabernet Sauvignon and a small Bonarda added for complexity.  Like the vast majority of Argentine Malbec, this one comes from the Mendoza province.  The grapes came from vineyards in the Uco Valley and in the Luján de Cuyo area south of the city of Mendoza.  Part of the wine spent time in French oak and part in American oak previous to blending and bottling. Read more

Diseño Malbec

Diseño MalbecSometimes I search and search, but can’t find any background info on a wine to share with you all.  I combed through the results on my favorite wine search engine, Able Grape, and there was nothing enlightening to be found.  Even the website listed on the bottle doesn’t seem to be working.  All I have to give you is my review, and maybe that’s all you want anyway. Read more

Jean Bousquet Malbec Reserva

Jean Bousquet Malbec ReservaOur series on Malbec continues today with a look at a very excellent Malbec from a French winemaker who relocated to Argentina.  Jean Bousquet started his winemaking career in Carcassonne, France, where he spent over 20 years honing his craft.  In 1990 he first became familiar with the vineyards of Mendoza, Argentina and in 1997 he bought land in Tupungato, Mendoza and relocated his winery to Argentina.
I tasted this wine alongside some $40+ Malbecs—which were exceptional—and it held it’s own next to them. Read more

Bodega Septima Malbec

Bodega Septima MalbecI’ve been sitting on a stack of Malbec reviews for a while, waiting to get enough done to do a excellent series on Malbec and it’s time to finally start posting them.  Although, I’m sure I’ll break up the series with a link additional extraneous reviews I have in the works.
Malbec, an inky, dark grape variety, has become synonymous with Argentina in recent years, at least if you’re a wine nut like me.  But it has a strong description in France, and is subdue prevalent in some French wines, particularly those of Cahors.  It used to be a common grape variety in Bordeaux, but plantings in that province have declined much since a devastating frost in 1956.  With the recent popularity of Malbec from Argentina, I’ve noticed additional regions starting to experiment with this variety—including some producers from California like Michel-Schlumberger.
Bodega Septima is a relatively young producer in Argentina, having just established there in 2000.  But it, like many wine brands, is part of a larger wine family with a long description.  The wine family for Bodega Septima is Grupo Cordiniu, operating in the US as Aveníu Brands. Read more