Real Wine for $12.99 [and even $9.99]

2012 Viñalba Malbec Gran Reserva

I sidled up to the tasting bar last weekend, and had this one opposite some reds with big points from the gliteratti: Pingus PSI, Casarena Owen’s & Austin Hope.

And while the pointy wines were all very nice in their own right [my guess is that every year the Hope family must be sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to François Frères], I kept coming back to the weight and stuffing and presence of the Viñalba - it seemed so much more firmly grounded in reality than the pointy wines.

I brought a bottle home and tasted it over the course of the last six days, and while it opened up and even started softening and getting a little blowsy by the end of the week, it never came close to oxidizing.

Furthermore, I never noticed even the slightest hint of spoofulation in it - nothing that remotely resembled a vanillin - so my guess is that the wine was vinified in [at best] 100% old oak, and might very well have been vinified entirely in concrete.

It was bottled with a composite cork, so I don’t know whether it can be cellared over the long haul, but it’s already got a solid six years of bottle age on it right now [status post the Southern Hemisphere harvest of 2012], and if that composite cork were to stay airtight, then I could see this wine surviving out towards the 2042 timeframe.

But at $12.99 by the case, if you’re trying to host a budget wedding or graduation party this spring, and if you don’t want to be ashamed of what you’re serving your guests, then this is a BACK UP THE TRUCK food-friendly red wine.


2013 Viñalba Malbec Reserve

I also got a quick sip of this one last weekend, although I wasn’t able to bring a bottle home with me.

My impression was of a wine with much more acidity than the Gran Reserva, a much brighter red in the synesthesia, and fruit which was just shy of crunchy.

It’s only $9.99 by the case, so if you’re a Loire-head, who realizes that you can’t actually serve Cabernet Franc to normies with their grilled steaks this summer, but who still wants plenty of kick in the presentation, then give this one a try.

vinalba reserva reservado

I think the best analogy I could make is that these wines are just like the table wines which we used to get from Sparky Marquis and Chris Ringland, way back in the day, but with neither the oak nor the residual sugar.

And with significantly brighter synesthesia.

Lots of great wines out there like this, but you have to be willing to wade thru an ocean of swill to find them. Along with the fact that these price points are below most critics range nowadays whem it comes to price ranges so you have to do the legwork personally.

Along with the fact that these price points are below most critics range nowadays whem it comes to price ranges so you have to do the legwork personally.

That’s why mailing list wines have to be at least $150/btl.

It’s not like there’s good wine out there for less.

Here is another:

Raats Chenin Blanc, unoaked. South Africa.

Crisp and refreshing, an easy and pleasant quaffer.


Locally, these two Malbecs just went on sale today.

The Parkerized Wine, which is the 2012 Gran Reserva, has the better corks.

The AFWE Wine, which is the 2013 Reserva, has a lesser quality cork, and might best be consumed within the next few years [although, if the cork holds, then it could be a 20 to 30 year wine].

But in either event - Parkerized or AFWE - I’d be thinking about purchasing these wines by the pallet.

We spent a fair amount of time examining both of them over the last month or so, and I simply cannot overemphasize what ridiculous bargains they are.