Altocedro La Consulta Select Blend 2012

4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

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The Uco Valley is the new frontier of Argentine winemaking, where some of the most exciting experiments are taking place. There has been much investment by domestic and foreign winemakers, and those bets are paying off. And Tiny La Consulta, which sits in the shadow of Volcano San Jose, is one of the most heralded wine growing regions in the Uco Valley right now.

So when we came across this $16.99 bottle at the Western Market in Mountain Brook, AL, one of the better wine sellers in the region, we had to check it out.

I’ve been fascinated by Argentine red blends lately. They add complexity to an already wonderful Malbec grape, and this one adds to the argument to try a blend. And a wine from this well-regarded region seemed like it would have promise.

Altocedro La Consulta Select is a blend of 42% Malbec, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Tempranillo and 9% Syrah, with restrained fruit and really nice complexity for the price.

Try it; you’ll like it.

Great value malbec from a storied winemaker at Costco

2010 Flechas de Los Andes Gran Malbec

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

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Anyone who’s enjoyed a few bottles of Argentine wine with me knows that one of my all time favorites is the Flechas de Los Andes (Arrow of the Andes) Gran Corte 2006, with a Robert Parker rating of 94. Upon opening wine is strikingly full-bodied and somewhat tannic, but after a few minutes of air it bursts with complex aromas and flavors. I liked it so much, I bought up the entire US supply!

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Flechas is part of Clos de Los Siete, a group of seven winemaking partners who all share family and business ties to superstar French consulting winemaker Michel Rolland. Five different vineyards at the foot of the Andes produce distinct brands at different price levels. Together, they have been described by WineAccess as “the most ambitious (and possibly most expensive) wine making operation on the planet.”

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So I naturally got curious when I saw another bottle from the same winemaker in my local Costco at the crazy low price of $11.99.

This is the Flechas de Los Andes Gran Malbec. Unlike the Gran Corte, which is a Malbec/Syrah/Merlot blend aged for 17 months in new French oak, the Gran Malbec is 100% Malbec grape and it’s aged for 14 months. So, a less complex wine, but it shares a lot of the same grapes and lineage.

The release price was $22. For some reason, people weren’t willing to go there. (Maybe it’s because the wine has a slightly musty scent upon first opening.) So while the Gran Malbec had an impressive Robert Parker rating of 92, it didn’t take the market by storm.

Enter Costco, the largest purchaser of fine wine in the U.S.: “How much for all those bottles you’ve got there, taking up space?” Apparently the folks at Cos de Los Siete were ready to deal. So I brought a bottle home.

It’s not as magic as the Gran Corte, to be sure. But five minutes after pouring, it’s pretty darn tasty. If you’re drinking Alamos, Cupcake, The Show, or other cheap South American reds, buy a bottle of this instead. I think you’ll like it.