2009 Scholium Project Midan al-Tahrir

Let’s start with the finish, shall we?

The thing is it has to be the truth to really go over, here. It can’t be a calculated crowd-pleaser, and it has to be the truth unslanted, unfortified. And maximally unironic.

– David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

If the experience of drinking a sip of this wine somehow included an involuntary oblivion, slyly eliding the first four-fifths of the line, it would have been enough. Heck, it would have been more than enough; the final, sneaking outro, the slouching into the past on little cat feet, soft scratch of nails against slate and clay, that alone’s far more interesting than most wines manage.

Let’s start with what this wine is not: it’s not identifiably varietal, it’s not faithful to a style (and in that sense is assuredly not a vin d’effort, it’s immoderately alcoholic, and it may well be de trop in terms of food pairings (although it might work wonders where pale, cool sherries would).

In the glass, the color’s nothing; it’s undifferentiated white wine product, visually unexceptional… but don’t be fooled. The nose is as subtly differentiated as a Rothko painting; subtle variations unfold towards the margins. The effect is akin to watching an Apichatpong Weerasethakul movie: in the center of the frame, a water buffalo escapes its post, slowly, leaving you to experience the beauty of the moment. This wine requires patience.

There are peaches, simple canned peaches, with a hint of the fresh linens worn by the cafeteria ladies who served you those peaches when you were in fourth grade. There are spices, refreshing and clean. They smell like Mom. There’s a wonderful, nutty oxidation, like a steel-green Chardonnay. The closest thing I’ve ever smelled to this was a sparkling Scheurebe from Saxony, all fresh bright fruits with a subversive edge of fresh sugar snap peas. If you’ve ever taken the time to watch – and I do mean really watch – a simple Dan Flavin sculpture of fluorescent tubes shimmering bright white light against a smooth concrete wall, you might have experienced something like the calm, hazy torpor this wine induces.

Alcohol, of which there is plenty, lends a fat happiness here, but thankfully relatively little heat. Not sweet, you can choose your own adventure here if you’re so inclined: this could be slightly oxidized Chardonnay, this could be from Franconia, this could be very fresh and clean. Peaches and cream, spice and almonds seem to be the main themes here; however, it’s only when it goes quiet that it really sings.

After the wine is gone – and I have no idea how the gods have arranged this – there’s that final, languid pause before unseen pleasures surprise you. If you’ve ever heard Evelyn Glennie play a note that she didn’t actually play, it’s something like that. This wine tastes like memory feels.

Scholium Project
Price: $24
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Fecha 2006

I’ll keep this short. Three weeks ago, I joined Turista Libre! for an art tour to Tijuana. After visiting the Tijuana cultural center and seeing one of the most interesting exhibits I’ve seen in years (largely to do with the visual language of Tijuana), I was fortunate enough to have lunch at cielo, an amazingly good restaurant in the brand new Via Corporativo building, Tijuana’s first high-tech green office building, which also houses Mision 19, the hottest new restaurant in Mexico, as well as a new branch of la CONTRA, an impossibly stylish Mexican wine shop.

Earlier in the week, I’d seen the label for this wine on their Web site and decided that it was a categorical imperative that I buy a bottle. As luck would have it, it was not only far more expensive than I was expecting – I had to beg my partner for cash to complete the purchase – but it wasn’t even made from noble grapes, whatever that means. Oh, hell no. It’s made from Carignane, which is about as low rent as grapes get in this part of the world.

Flash forward to this evening: it’s a work night, and I’ve convinced a coworker who also knows a thing or two about good wine to come over after work and share a pizza. We start with a 1998 Clonakilla shiraz viognier, which is beautiful, elegant, tranquil, and calming – and then I figure, oh, what the hell, might as well open this bottle of Mexican wine that is probably wildly overpriced and not terribly good.

I haven’t been more wrong about a bottle of wine in years. I’ll keep this mercifully short: this is one of the best wines I have tasted in years. Much like the Mogor-Badan chasselas from the same part of the world, this wine is simultaneously breathtakingly beautiful and deceptively plain. With a sweet nose of bacon-smoked cherries, hickory wood, and dried plums, the wine suddenly detours into a wonderfully somber, heavy-tannined, plush murmur of serious bass (think Orange amplification, of course) along the lines of, say, an Om LP. This wine does all of the things that good wines do: every time you smell it, it changes: sometimes it smells of oranges and Christmas spices; other times, it smells of finely ground white pepper in a blazing white kitchen with sauerbraten cooking. The acidity is rude in the best possible way, reminding you that, hey, this is carignane, you know, and not some brain-dead Napa cab. The finish goes on so long that Rebecca Black is probably responsible for it. More than anything, else, though, is the overwhelming, ecstatic sense you get that you’ve never, ever drunk anything like this before. This, my friends, is Mexico.

Price: $75
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Monte Xanic Chardonnay 2007

It’s a funny thing: if I stand up on the roof of my house, I can see Mexico. The city where I live used to be Mexican, most of the workers in Californian vineyards are Mexican, and yet finding Mexican wine in these parts is dang near impossible. Sure, San Diego’s just an hour’s drive away from the finest vineyards in Mexico – and yet it’s easier to find Uruguayan tannat or Romanian fetească albă here than a simple Chardonnay grown just down the road.

This bottle was retrieved from Costco Mexicali; I would hazard a guess that it represents solid middle class Chardonnay in Mexico. Given the high taxes on wine in Mexico, it’s roughly twice the cost a similarly positioned California chard would cost, which is a real shame.

The wine is strikingly clear, somewhat pale gold with a tinge of green. The nose is quintessentially Burgundian, with matchstick, cashew, and cream in abundance. There are also hints of pear and toasty oak as well as something approaching cherimoya.

Unabashedly fat, the first impression I get here is frankly that of a clumsy hommage to the likes of K-J Vintners Reserve chard. This doesn’t quite hold true, though, as there appears to be no residual sugar here; more tellingly, there is plenty of acidity on the back palate to hold off the initial creamy onslaught. Even so, the overall effect is of dairy cream candy a thousand miles away from Chablis – until the finish, that is, when the acidity takes over and almost allows the wine to finish on a refreshing note… almost.

This is a curious wine and damn near a very good one indeed. My only real problem here is that it seems to be somewhat undecided about what it wants to be: all signs point towards creamy, lees-y, over-the-top Californian chardonnay, and yet that finish betrays its European side more than anything else. Ultimately, though, it’s a lot more interesting than other wines in its price class and definitely worth checking out. (Just don’t try to bring more than one bottle back if you’re a California resident and you’re driving yourself back across the border – I learned the hard way that Draconian laws here will result in a lengthy detention in secondary inspection while la migra waits for you to empty all of your other bottles into a sink. Oops.)

Monte Xanic
Price: $20
Closure: Diam
Source: Retail

2005 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot

You ever pop the cork on a bottle, pour some in a glass, smell the wine, and say to yourself: Is that it? I mean, really? Well, this might just be one of those bottles… at least right away. After waiting fifteen minutes – actually, baking a frozen pizza – the nose finally did get somewhere. Unfortunately, though, that somewhere was more like the Greyhound station in Modesto than, you know, Pomerol or something.

This wine smells like wine. It doesn’t even smell like expensive wine: it just smells bland. There’s a little bit of sour kirsch, some spicy plums, and an awful lot of dead air. Moderately fat on the palate, there’s also an unnerving sense of absence: instead of fatness and plush, classic Napa merlot, you get the vinous equivalent of a receding hairline: as quickly as you can latch onto something worth noticing, it ebbs away into a thin, acidic, spicy, uninteresting puddle of a sweet, alcoholic cash drain. Over the course of a glass, the only marked change is that of the tannins, which tend to build over time into a thick fuzzy wall of sorts; they’re not sweet, refined, or pleasant, but they’re definitely there in an obstinately retro, oaky kind of way.

I really don’t know what to make of this wine. This was a present from some very generous coworkers a few years ago, and I was looking forward to it in a sort of ‘so this is what the other side drinks’ kind of way. I imagine that Napa merlot was Very Big Indeed in the 1990s; those were the days when every marketing executive at a company holiday party would hold forth on how the cheap crap they were pouring was no match for Pahlmeyer or what have you. Is this just a brand name coasting on reputation, hoping that rubes in less with-it parts of the country will keep on paying fifty bucks for this because they don’t know any better?

Seriously: Just grab a bottle of Hedges Red Mountain wine for a third the price and tell me why the Duckhorn even needs to exist with competition like that. Yeesh.

Duckhorn Vineyards
Price: $50
Closure: Cork
Source: Gift

Field Recordings Koligian Vineyard "Chorus Effect" 2008

This is American wine.

Fabulously complex, this wine shows the very best America has to offer while still maintaining a respectful echo of Old World tradition. The nose is cedary (without smelling like a wardrobe), spicy within tasteful bounds, and displays a finely layered, overlapping, intricate mesh of little red fruits. It’s reminiscent of balsamic vinegar in which strawberries have steeped, or perhaps of dried plums and brandy. More intriguingly, there’s a faint hint of cold, wet granite and faded violets: the initial sweetness of the nose is quickly replaced by something more serious, more complex, more interesting.

Texturally, the wine is a marvel, rich and full in the mouth without being sappy or fat. The firm tannins resolve quickly and firmly into a sharp, precise stop; then, the finish then creeps forward ever so slowly with hints of molasses and dried cherries, smoke and fading embers. In the distance, you can feel the cold northern lights fading, wisps of wintergreen and peat in the air.

No two mouthfuls taste exactly the same: it’s much like listening to a La Monte Young drone piece. Imagine a six channel audio setup in which every speaker is playing something different at the same volume; if you can will yourself to cede concentration and lose yourself to the moment, you’ll experience overlapping washes of physical experience. Pretty cool, come to think of it: if some wines bowl you over with sheer power and others with delicate beauty, the joy to be found here seems to exist in the tension between its multiple, unresolved elements. Difficult as hell to pull off, this is an excellent example of the genre.

The best New World wines are like this one: wonderfully ripe, exuberant, and bold – and yet restrained enough to give you time and space to appreciate the subtleties of place. There is absolutely no possible way this could have come from Bordeaux; that is a strength, not a fault. Just as Ridge Geyserville or Hedges Red Mountain are distinct, unique wines that don’t feel like they could have come from anywhere else, this wine only leaves me with one question: Why hasn’t anyone made this before? It just feels right, somehow.

Field Recordings.
Price: $27
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Retail

La Linda Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Tell you what: This is the new deal. If you send me a sample of your wine, I will do my very best to provide you a piece of writing which may or may not have anything to do what’s in the glass. Think of it as something for nothing (other than a small ding in your PR budget): you send me wine, and you get (hopefully interesting, probably rambling) free association about the semiotics of your wine, random commentary, and maybe even an actual tasting note.

On to this sample, then, courtesy of an East Coast public relations agency who offered it up unbidden. (I replied thanking them and asking them for information on Australian availability, given that many of our readers don’t live in the eastern USA. They didn’t reply to that question, but they did send a bottle, which is lovely.) I initially agreed because I’d heard of Luigi Bosca; I have vague good memories of them from a weekend in Mendoza that was preceded by an incredibly long bus trip thanks to a general strike at the nation’s airports.

I’ll start by saying this: Screw Flash. Really. It’s just annoying. I went to load their Web site (linked below) and had to wait for a lame-ass animation of YAY A CORKSCREW uncorking white space in my browser. You know what, guys? Save the money and put it in your product. All I want from a winery’s Web site is technical sheets about their products (with tasting notes, perhaps), information on where to buy some, and maybe even a list of upcoming events at the winery. That’s it. And you know what else I really don’t want? One of those annoying “Please enter your birthdate!!!” pages. Hint: It’s the Internet. I’m sure that 20-year-olds will see that pages and say “You know what, never mind. I’m not old enough to drink, so I had better leave this Argentine wine site and go back to talking about Justin Bieber on Facebook with my little sister.” Please. It’s just irritating, ESPECIALLY when you have to enter your birthday using a Flash UI. STOP IT. (For the record, I was born on 1 January 1910.)

On to the wine, but before I begin, I’ll note that Luigi Bosca seems to have erupted in a mad bout of branding, PR dollars, and marketing a go go. This is cool; I loved their Gala wines, but if they want to sell twenty different wines at multiple price points with different branding entirely, that’s just fine. This wine, La Linda, or “the beautiful,” is their cheap stuff, selling for well under ten bucks in the USA. With that in mind, I’ll start by looking at the packaging: the foil is a little cheap looking, the cork has some kind of laser-printed inventory or other number on it, but once that’s gone, you have a fairly splendid looking bottle that exudes class. The label is well printed and looks like a twenty dollar wine; there’s exactly enough information on the back label to help your average supermarket consumer decide if this is the wine they’re looking for (geographical information, a straightforward, honest tasting note, and food pairings (red meats!)). In short, everything is perfect here; it looks like it was destined for Oddbins or any decent supermarket.

So what have we got in the glass, then? A bruiser of purplish-black, inky wine, blackberry sweet on the nose, but with an attractive seam of rich, toasty, vanilla oak (chips?). The real surprise is on the palate, where the wine pivots into something much more interesting (and useful to restaurateurs): a higher-toned, nicely acidic, brightly lifted red wine that seems purpose built for the wine list at an all-you-can-eat churrasceria joint in Dallas or Washington. The palate is classy, friendly, and slowly gives way to a firm but friendly tannic finish that should do incredibly well with charcuterie or, well, huge frickin’ steaks. Oh, and I almost forgot the best part: it’s only 13.5% alcohol, which means you can share a bottle with your partner and not have to call a cab home afterwards.The only competition I can really see for a wine like this – at least locally – would be something like a Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot from Washington, which offers an approximately similar drinking experience at a similar price point. Where this wine shines by comparison, though, is the classier packaging, the more complex taste, and perceived value (hey, it’s an import!).

If you run a restaurant, this would be perfect for a steakhouse, upscale Mexican restaurant, or themed Brazilian dining. There’s no reason you couldn’t charge $30 for this and profit handsomely; if I were the importer, I’d concentrate on hospitality sales and avoid retail, where it might not fit in to the standard retail mix (two wines from Argentina, one Torrontés, one Malbec).

Luigi Bosca
Price: $8.99
Closure: Cork
Source: Sample

Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 1998

A couple of weeks back, I finally, finally got around to inventorying all of the wine that’s stashed around the house (and in the garage). The single most important thing I learned? I have way, way too much wine. (Duh.) Most surprising of all, however, was coming to the realization that I had a few things in the dodgy wine fridge in the garage that I had completely forgotten about. Case of 2002 Petaluma riesling? Check. Six pack of 1998 Clonakilla s/v that presumably came from the closeout bin somewhere, complete with discounted price stickers? Check. Why I didn’t realize this earlier, I have absolutely no idea. So what to with this stuff? Easy: Drink it.

This wine doesn’t look remarkably old; the cork was in good shape and it’d been carefully cellared for a good long time. It’s beautiful to look at, with some browning towards the rim, but more importantly it’s got that lovely sort of finely particulate look that I for whatever reason enjoy. On the nose, this smells like nothing so much as Cornas. Honestly. It’s got just a hint of rich, dark syrah fruit – but over and above that it’s got real minerality, charred back bacon, dried violets, and the smell of rye bread baked over an open fire, giving it a roasted, charry, smoky effect.

Upon entry, the first thing that strikes me is the relatively light feel of the wine, combined with a surprise sourness. However, given time and attention, the palate does fill out, balancing the sourness with bright, sharp red fruit. Tannins are still very much present, but nicely silken and restrained at this point; there also seems to be just a hint of cocoa on the finish, which gracefully declines into a lively, babble of sweet cherry fruit and spicy, earthy meats.

I don’t know what this wine was like when it was younger; a lot’s happened since these grapes were harvested. There is a real beauty to this wine, though, and although it may not be the most complex or enthralling Clonakilla I’ve tasted, it still has moments of transcendence and beauty to offer.

Price: $30
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Punk Bubbles Rosé 2005

Look, I’ll be honest here: it was a categorical imperative that I buy and drink this wine. Take a look:

(Credit goes to beth elliott design for these labels. Beth is awesome.)

How could I not? Any discussion of the wine is probably going to be secondary to a discussion of the semiotics of the packaging (and price point). This wine was released for about US $35 by The Grateful Palate, a now-apparently-bankrupt American wine importer that originally made its mark working with Sarah and Sparky Marquis to import super-huge, über-alcoholic wines made by Chris Ringland (and others) and marketed as Marquis-Philips (Dan Philips is the man behind The Grateful Palate). After an apparently-acrimonious breakup, Dan went on to a whole series of occasionally brilliant, always interestingly packaged wines (Boarding Pass was always a favorite of mine) that promised good value, hugely entertaining and highly original graphic design, and at the very least enough alcohol to keep the party going. Some of the wines were duds (Darby and Joan cabernet, Bitch Bubbly); others were as good as anyone could possibly have hoped for (Bitch, First Class, Green Lion).

At some point last year, they came out with Punk Bubbles in both rosé and ordinary variants. These wines were not cheap, being (presumably) traditional method sparkling wines priced at about the same as well-known Champagne such as Piper-Heidsieck and Veuve Clicquot ($30-$40 US). However, what set them apart were the labels: awesome, beautifully ugly cutups of classic punk rock tropes complete with scrawled text that said stuff like FILTH and STENCH. My first thought was damn: how perfect. Expensive Australian sparkling wine with confrontationally ugly labels released just in time for old school punk rockers’ 50th birthday parties.

Then, sadly, apparently no one bought the stuff, even if they even had special variant labels only available at momofuku restaurants in New York City. Oh well, can’t win ’em all, I guess. I bought three bottles of the rosé on closeout for $25 – still well north of high quality California sparkling wine (figure $13 for Chandon or $18 for Roederer in these parts), but with a label that says FOR HUMANS on the side of it, which makes me giddy in a way I probably should be ashamed of.

But: how’s the wine? The mousse is absolutely spot on perfect:a lovely, fine froth around the rim of the glass. The bead is spot on as well, a thin, elegant column of fine bubbles vigorously rockieting upwards from the bottom of the glass. The color is wonderfully vulgar, reminiscent more of a Champagne with still Pinot noir added before secondary fermentation than a blanc de noirs. It does tend towards onionskin, but on the whole it really is tween-pink more than respectably pale, anemic salmon.

The nose is surprisingly bready, with autolysed yeast characteristics, reminiscent of fresh toast. It’s quickly augmented by wild strawberries, pink peppercorns, and a sort of violet-raspberry note. It’s all rather enchanting and much more grown up than the color suggests. Refreshingly acidic, the wine is alas just the tiniest bit of a letdown on the palate, with relatively simple, somewhat wan flavors of strawberry lip gloss and not a whole lot else. The finish is fairly short, with a mild pepperiness tinged with violets and strawberries.

Is this wine worth $35? Frankly no. But is it worth $25? Well… yeah, probably. It’s not the best pink sparkling wine I’ve had, but it’s good enough – and the slight price premium is worth it to me to enjoy the label. Shallow? Or merely cognizant of the fact that not everything that makes a wine enjoyable is in the bottle itself? You decide.

The Grateful Palate
Price: $25
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Ridge Pagani Ranch 2003

It’s a cold, rainy night here in San Diego, so I went for the most alcoholic wine I could find; there are two reasons for this. One, I’m cold and could use some alcoholic heat, and two, after kvetching about the high alcohol content of Mollydooker wines last week, I figured it was time to try another high octane wine from a different winery and see if I can find any reason at all for my dislike of the high alcohol Mollydooker house style. So: here I am.

This wine’s older; the back label suggests holding it until 2010-2011 to allow it to ‘soften,’ and I’ve done that more or less as proscribed. The color doesn’t seem to have faded much, if at all: it’s still that rich, dark, opaque black color I associate with Zinfandel. Just like the Mollydookers, it also has a noticeably clear rim and jambes d’enfer, making its 15.4% alcohol level perfectly clear. Things couldn’t be more clearly different than the Mollydooker wines, though, on the nose.

This doesn’t smell like other wines, not even like other Ridge zinfandels. This takes the whole jammy, Christmas pudding, spice box, Turkish delight aesthetic to overdriven levels. There’s not much by the way of obvious wood; instead, what you get here is extremely ripe fruit. What’s odd, though, is that the alcohol seems to be relatively adroit at keeping itself out of the way enough to smell the wine; you don’t get a snootful of alcoholic vapors, just a twinge. Even so, the second you drink some, bang, there it is: unavoidable alcohol that’s a little bit harsh, obstructing the otherwise clean line here. For all of the delicious, dried fruit, dates and treacle going on here, there’s still a clearly porty aspect you just can’t avoid.

So what’s the deal here? Why does this bother me less than similarly alcoholic syrah and cabernet from Mollydooker? I think it’s simple: zinfandel is more or less an inherently ridiculous grape. It tastes best at higher alcohol levels; it doesn’t really gain a thing when it’s harvested at 13% potential alcohol because the grape just isn’t ripe at those sugar levels. Instead, you have to get it up in the 14s before you can make a palatable wine from it at all. However, cabernet and syrah both do just fine in the 12-14 percent range, and I just don’t see what they gain at higher alcohol levels; I think they begin to lose quite a bit in interest and complexity once you get anywhere past, oh, about 14.5%. When you hit 15, 16, and (God forbid), 16.5% alcohol, a lot of the interesting bits seem to have gone, and the good bits that are left don’t seem to particularly complement the alcohol (in the sense that the overall effect is of a less complex port), unlike zinfandel, whose innate characteristics (think spicy date pudding) do in fact sit will at relatively insane levels of alcohol.

Digression over. Back to this wine: it’s drinking rather beautifully right now and is a fine example of a high alcohol (if not quite late harvest) zinfandel (or, technically, a field blend – there’s alicante bouschet and durif/petite sirah here as well). Age has brought a genteel faded character to the hyperripe fruitfest and given it an earthy, almost cedary edge that’s lovely. If there’s any Old World wine to which I’d compare it, it would be to a 40 year old port; it has definite similarities in terms of complexity, and a lot of the bottom end has fallen out, leaving a melody almost entirely in the treble clef, a wonderful harmony of rich, fruity, aged notes with a nearly sherry-like hint of maderization. Pretty damn good wine, if I say so myself.

Ridge Vineyards
Price: $30
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail

Tabla Numero Uno 2008

Just for grins, click here to see where this wine was grown – it’s about as far off of the beaten path as you can get in North America. I had to zoom out at least half a dozen times (in Google Maps) before I had even the vaguest idea where in Mexico these grapes were grown: turns out it’s Zacatecas, a relatively obscure state south of Coahuila, which is where the first winery in the New World was constructed all the way back in 1597.

The vineyard is 2,057 meters above sea level, which would probably explain how it’s at possible, and why this is a moderate 12.2 pct. alcohol, which is very low for anywhere in North America. But let’s skip all of the geography and technical details and jump straight to the wine.

It’s a lovely, deep, rich, dark red wine; it isn’t lacking for color. It gets immediately interesting on the nose; at first, I thought I smelled sweet, dusty fruit; after a few minutes, it changed to a slightly sweeter, incredibly unusual nose with a tinge of mulberry and something approaching volatile acidity. More than anything, though, it smells of damp earth, coffee, soft red fruits, and fig paste.The taste of the wine is a surprise, but only briefly; with Malbec, I’m preconditioned to expect more alcohol, so the initial approach of the wine seemed disappointing: it’s not a monster, so you don’t get the thickness the alcohol lends. It does fill out rapidly after that, though, with a fairly rich, thick midpalate accented by sweet, dusty notes but again with that charming coffee-like, smoky note that I’m guessing is strictly from oak. The finish sings on for a good half a minute, alternately sweet and savory, and often with a wonderfully intriguing oakiness, but only just. On the down side, there’s a very slight, only occasionally noticeable component that seems faulty, but I can’t say exactly what it is (I’m thinking volatile acidity, but I’m just not sure). In short, it’s not factory wine.

If I had to compare this wine to anything, it would be to an imaginary Beaujolais that had been aged in lightly toasted oak barrels; I don’t think I’ve ever had anything like this. It almost reminds me of some of the lesser known southern French wines like Cotes du Marmandais, but what really stands out here is the impressive length of the wine, going on as it does.

Yes, this is about as obscure as it gets – I found this wine in a small shop in Mexicali, the capital of Baja California, yesterday (and wound up in secondary inspection at Customs because I didn’t realize that the state of California only allows residents to return with one liter of any kind of alcoholic beverages… oops) – but this is worth seeking out for anyone who’s interested in what you can do in new winegrowing areas with traditional grapes. Of all the Malbecs I’ve had, this isn’t as immediately delicious as, say, most midrange Argentine malbecs, but the Zacatecan expression of the grape is pretty damn interesting. Of course, this is probably too much money to pay for what you’re getting here – you could have a mind-blowing Argentine malbec for about the same amount – but you’ll never have tasted a wine like this before.

Viñedos Santa Elena
Price: $32
Closure: Cork
Source: Retail