Store Check: Whole Foods Market, Birmingham, AL

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

Whole Foods hit town with an astonishing assortment of high end wines at grand opening. It looked like it was going to give neighborhood favorite Western Supermarket a real run for its money. A few years later, it seems that the $60-80 product (big California cabs, etc.) has been pared in favor of more sub-$20 choices.

wholefoodsaisle

The Argentine Red aisle looks fine, though it’s hardly the most compelling choice in town. But there are still two compelling reasons to shop here.

1) Since you can buy a bottle and drink a glass at the counter at the Brasserie while they cook you a grass-fed Tenderloin you’ve picked out yourself at the butcher shop, you can create your own poor-man’s parrilla right off US 280.

state-malbec2) The semi-annual 20% off case sale. The one to pick up here is Colomè Estate Malbec, priced at $28.99. It’s from Salta, in the northern provinces, and now owned by the Hess family out of Switzerland.

 

Wines: Luigi Bosca Malbec

3 Stars (3 / 5)

1173826_1907599Note that this is not the higher-end D.O.C version but the more basic wine. You should be able to find this in stores for around $14 with some careful shopping. Full-bodied, lots of oak, not terribly complicated, but a pleasant Wednesday night sip.

 

Store Check: Target

Target

2.0 Stars (2.0 / 5)

Love me some Target. Good prices, great pharmacy and a bit more fashion sense than other discounters.

But for all its much-vaunted design sensibility, Target isn’t terribly on target when it comes to Argentine red wines.

The selection is nothing to write home about, lacks even some of the common quality high-volume labels (even finding Catena malbec is hit or miss, depending on which location you are at) and the selection tends to skew towards those cute-label brands rather than anything labeled with the name of an actual winemaker who is proud of his craft.

If I had to pick up something here, it would be the Alamos Seleccion, which got a 90 from Robert Parker. It says Catena on the label and it is a product of that family but it’s from different vineyards and is actually imported by (gasp) Gallo.

Second choice would be Punto Final but the reserve version of this wine is much better than the black label.

The Terrazas (huge seller in the States) is appropriately located on the bottom shelf. I’m not a fan of their wines.

Personally, I would buy my socks, grab a Starbucks latte, and plan to make one more stop at the wine store before heading home.