Affordable, yet good, Malbec

For the longest time, if I had to choose a favorite varietal wine, a Malbec would have been close to the top of my list. Something in my taste buds have changed recently. I don’t know if has been the crummy, cheap, way to fruity Malbecs that I have been served in restaurants or what, but they are working down my list of favorites. I have been less than pleased with the selection of Malbecs in restaurants lately. Now, you all know I don’t believe in having a “favorite” type of wine, because every wine, winemaker or country can be different. Which means I need to revisit this wine and realize I enjoy a nice, rich in fruit tasting, but not to fruity, Malbec ( I know, I am very confusing). A typical Malbec is very dark in color. Some wine experts call it a “rustic” version of a Merlot. Most Malbecs have a fruity, smoky, plum flavor (hence some having way to much fruit taste for this gal). Malbecs typically come from France, Argentina and Washington.

To get over my sour taste with some of them, I decided my Tasting Tonight would be on an Argentina Malbec.

Tonights Tasting

2010 Zolo Gaucho Select Malbec    ($9.99 Whole Foods)

 My go-to, cheap, yet very delicious Malbec is a Mendoza, Argentina Malbec called Zolo.   It started a few years back, when my girlfriend/co-worker Alyssa and I decided to stop at this new wine bar, at the time, in Kent, WA  called The Grape Adventure. First of all, I am very proud of Kent for having a wine bar ( I live in Seattle where a wine bar is on every corner, next to all the Starbucks, but the suburbs don’t have that luxury of having a variety of small wine bars). And the Grape Adventure is a wine bar with a good wine selection and delicious food (you must try the avocado humus). To top it all off, it is a wine shop as well, so if you can’t stay for a drink, you can pop by after work and pick up a decent bottle of wine.

 We had a glass, or more, of wine that evening; one of them being a Zolo. It was love at first sip, so I of course snagged a bottle to take home. Zolo is not overly fruity, yet you can still taste the cherry, berry and plum notes – very rich in flavor and color. And the taste lasts on your tongue for a long time, yet it is not overpowering. It also has a rich violet smell.  The even better thing about Zolo, is the price point and the ability to find it anywhere. I have been able to find this wine at wine shops, grocery stores, BevMo (for those lucky to have a BevMo.. we don’t in Washington) and Costco all for $9.99 or under. Seriously, a price you cannot simply just walk by.

I have become picky with Malbecs, only because I do not enjoy an overly fruity, cheap tasting wine. Zolo is a wine you must keep a couple of bottles on hand, because it is a nice every day, drinking wine. And the name is also very fun to say.

Salud my friends!

Oh, if you live in the Kent, Maple Valley, Covington area, check out The Grape Adventure – 12930 SE Kent-Kangley Road
Kent, WA  98030

Grocery Store Challenge 1

Alright, it has been a couple of months since I decided to take the “Grocery Store Wine Challenge”  and I now have my first chain grocery store finding.  This was hard for me… since I am so partial to my local stores. So as I stopped by Safeway, with a sleeping baby, I decided to use my time wisely and peruse the wine section. I went in to this, with a sour attitude,  but to my surprise the wine section  at Safeway wasn’t horrific (meaning, there was more than just Carlo Rossi boxed wine!). So, to my fellow novices who are unable to hit West Seattle Cellars, Picnic on Greenwoood, Esquin wine merchant, and/or Vino Verite on Capital Hill (or any other wine shop in your neighborhood), there are decent options at your local grocery store. Here are some of the wines I found at Safeway on Roosevelt (and 75th). I am sure that each store (especially in a different state) has different wine selections, but take a look at these wines the next time you pop by Safeway.

*** I also have a wine tasting tonight, so take a look below!

Grocery Store recommendations – Safeway

Just a little information – if you purchase 6 or more bottles, you receive a %10 discount – with their Safeway Club card

L’ecole 2006 Caberent Sauvignon  $26.94- A Walla Walla red. I have only had L’ecole once, but loved it. For the most part Walla Walla wines are smooth and full of flavor. This wine is worth the investment. You can also find this wine in local wine shops as well.

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon - Columbia Valley

Kestral – Lady in Red  $14.99 – Prosser WA – another great wine. I have been to this winery twice and have always enjoyed their wines. Great everyday drinking wine.

Gascon Malbec – Argentina  $11.49.  I have had this wine once. Not my favorite Malbec but has a nice, light flavor. Good wine to take to a party.

Red Bicyclette Syrah – France  $8.99. A can’t beat price. I purchased a glass of this wine in a restaurant once and had a nice flavor – a hint of pepper if I remember correctly.  

Powers Cabernet Sauvignon 2007  – Tri-Cities, WA $10.84. I met one of their wine makers about a year ago. Very nice gentleman and his wines do not disappoint. They also own Badger Mountain Vineyards as well. Once fact about Powers, is that all their wines are organic. Exceptional price.. pick up a bottle.

If in doubt and need a wine in a hurry – Bogle Vineyards  in CA make inexpensive wines that hold their own. Make sure to drink this wine last. Always start with your more expensive, hard to find wine first – then end with the cheap stuff. Bogle wines are around $10.00 and I have seen them at most major supermarkets.

Tonight’s Tasting:

Tre Donne – D’Arc 2006 Italy ($15.00 West Seattle Cellars):

This wine is a blend of 40% Barbera D’Alba, 30% Pinot Noir, 20% Dolcetto D’Alba, and 10% Freisa.

We opened this wine with our dinner – which was vegetarian Chili. Wow!! That is pretty much all I have to say.  A smooth, vibrant and intense wine, I was more than impressed.  I was planning on having just a glass with dinner, but I have a feeling this bottle may be gone by the end of the night. If you can find this (and it won’t be at Safeway) – please grab a bottle. They say this wine goes perfectly with pork, but I beg to differ. It goes great with a vegetarian meal. Take my suggestion, grab this wine while you can.

I hope you have a great time searching for tonight’s tasting or grabbing a Safeway wine!

Goats do.. disappoint

What frustrates me, is when I find a wine, boast about it.. then get the next vintage year and it tastes horrible!  I was very excited to let all my fellow novices in on a little secret of a great wine, at a cheap price. Thank goodness I tried the wine before I wrote about it, because I was beyond disappointed.

About a year ago, while shopping at Trader Joes, I stumbled upon a bottle of wine that had interesting looking label (yes, I am one of those who will buy wines based on labels…good marketing works on me). And I had to let out a giggle when I read the name of this wine- a South African wine called Goats do Rome (obviously knocking the Cotes du Rhone from France, and yes the French were upset about this). I grabbed the wine and brought it home. I didn’t expect much from this, it was $8.99, with a funny label and had the name Goat in it… but to my surprise it tasted nice. I purchased the wine again later, it still made me giggle, but it still was an easy wine to drink and tasted lovely.

Not in the case of this 2008 Goats do Rome. It was still $8.99, but the label has changed (not as cute) and the taste leaves nothing to be desired. I couldn’t even finish my glass, it left a sour taste in my mouth. I thought maybe it was me, but my good friend, and fellow wine lover, Diana felt the same way. I know different vintage years can taste different, but this was a dramatic change that left me feeling sad and empty.

Luckily, Diana saved the evening by bringing another bottle of wine. Thank you Diana! Please take my recommendation, skip the 2008 Goats do Rome!! Put your $8.99 into another bottle of wine (or some Chinese take-out)…. please!

Now, the saving -the-night bottle Diana brought is something you must take notes on.. so I will wait while you grab a pen and paper…

I have had this wine a few times and really enjoy it. This wine has a decent price and tastes is beautiful. You will be able to detect a dark cherry and plum flavor – which flows so smooth, warms your tummy and puts a smile on your face. I had a couple glasses last night and it took me to a place of happiness (and no I was not drunk, I only had two glasses of it). It made me simply happy and reminded me how wonderful life can me… like being able to enjoy a fabulous bottle of wine with your loved ones (and even if you can’t stand the people you are with, this wine will help you enjoy them).

Punto Final  2008 Malbec – Argentina ($12.00 West Seattle Cellars – I have seen this at local markets such as Ballard and Greenwood Market – and even a few restaurants serve it by the glass).

Please, please, please novices, pick up this wine (along with another bottle of Stump Jump or their other wine, which I have not tried ,called Foot Bolt -2006 Shiraz) and enjoy life!