BenMarco Malbec 2003

Still almost a caricature of juicy-ripe fruit a fairly long time after harvest, this wine’s held up amazingly well. Squid ink and raspberries, iodine and white pepper come together as if the seaside’s been transported to central Oregon: there’s also a touch of dusty leather and dried tobacco leaves there as well. Lovely and complex, it promises quite a bit that (thankfully!) it mostly doesn’t fail to deliver.Initially somewhat thinly acidic, the wine quickly spreads out somewhat into a tart, taut, elegant midpalate suggestive of rhubarb tarts before mellowing into a softly tannic finish with subtle spiciness. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the inky dark color of the wine while waiting for the finish to complete itself; it takes its time disappearing quietly.Quite good, although I’d personally prefer stronger oak influence here, this wine is surprisingly light for an Argentine malbec, tending towards elegance rather than brute force. Try this one with salmon in a heavy sauce.Dominio del Plata
Price: $18
Closure: Cork

Recoleta Malbec Bonarda 2007

For a moment I found myself transfixed by the nose of this wine… it smelled familiar, and yet not. But what was it? Ah, there we are: scented permanent markets, just like the ones we used to huff in elementary school. Childhood memories… Seriously, it smells like children’s fruit candy: plums and raspberries and nothing too complicated or unusual. There’s also a slight hint of camphor there as well; on the whole, a promising start.

In the mouth, it’s just this side of off-dry (as I’m coming to expect from fresh&easy’s own label wines), with a fleeting sourness and not much else in the way of flavor, save for something that’s reminiscent of raspberry flavored wax lips candy. There’s a bit of tannin on the finish, probably more from pressing the grapes too hard than any kind of barrel fermentation, and then it’s gone. It all works reasonably well and would be a fantastic accompaniment to spicy barbecue or good old fashioned meat loaf. Amazing value and recommended for your next braai.

Recoleta [but really fresh&easy]
Price: US $2.99
Closure: Short, low quality cork amusingly labeled “estate bottled”
Tasted: November 2007

I’d like to note that I won’t always be tasting bargain basement wines from Tesco’s new US chain stores; it’s just that they happened to open their doors here two weeks ago, which prompted me to buy a case of their least expensive wine just for the heck of it. So far, I’m impressed by the QPR [quality price ratio] but haven’t found anything I’d drink on a regular basis. Thankfully, I’m down to only a few bottles – the most expensive one almost breaking the ten dollar mark – and when they open one near my home in San Diego, I promise I’ll go back and try their high-end own-label wines [I think I remember seeing a $15.99 Napa merlot, for example].