Tag Archives: Susana Balbo Signature Malbec

Dracula, Susana and the Red Daily Slosh

19 Jun

christopherlee

RIP, Sir Christopher

So, what’s with this week’s release? It’s called “Back By Popular Demand”. There are clearly crowd favourites among the 80 or so wines and spirits featured. As is my privilege and right, I am going to feature those that I’m glad they brought back.

susanamalbecConfession: I have a serious crush. I love Susana Balbo. There are several issues with that – I haven’t met her, haven’t even seen a picture of her. I’m not letting those little details stop me. I feel like I really ‘get’ her through her wines. The Torrontés – she’s fresh faced and breezy, the Cabernet Sauvignons – serious and intelligent, and the Malbecs – voluptuous (which I’m really hoping for). I follow her on Twitter but, alas, she doesn’t return the love. If I wasn’t half-way through a bottle of her Crios Torrontés right now, I might creep her on Facebook. Social Media Rule #1: Never creep people after alcohol – it gets dangerous. Sip, sip………….might rethink that rule. Well, when I saw that her 2012 Susana Balbo Signature Malbec #079978 $19.95 was hitting the shelves on the 27th, all those feelings of rejection and unrequited love came flooding back. But I’m bigger than that and will recommend this full-bodied beauty (14.5% ABV). It’s pleasantly sophisticated for a very well-priced Malbec. By that I mean that it’s smooth with everything integrated – no one thing screaming for attention. Longish finish with some tightness, grip. Great wine for sipping with snacks or would do well with something burnt too. BTW, if you see Susana, let her know that I’m still pining away – waiting for a ‘like’ or ‘follow’. I mean, come on. (typed using the font ‘Whiny Sans’)

zontesI seldom recommend an Australian wine. I guess it’s just that I don’t drink a lot of them; ergo, I have very little to talk about. I have, however, had the 2012 Zonte’s Footsteps Baron Von Nemesis #212936 $17.95. This is very good QPR or Quality to Price Ratio. It doesn’t have the thickness of some Shiraz we find around this price. And, frankly, that thickness is why I don’t take too many chances on them anymore unless recommended by a trusted source – The Wine Wankers come to mind. On the fruit front, this has more a Cabernet Sauvignon profile – dark and cassisy. Great food wine as it has a cleanness to it – refreshing. A great summer red wine.

I was on the road this week attending our son’s wedding in Providence, RI. That meant a few more meals in restaurants than usual and since I pretend to know stuff about wine, I’m always asked to pick the wine. Hard to believe that people trust me. The restaurants in Providence are villamedorodecidedly leaning Italian and we ate a few traditional Italian meals. The wine lists were littered with a zillion Italian wines that I had never had the pleasure of drinking. So, what to do? Well, ask the server or sommelier? Yeah, you can do that. Or, you can tell everyone that since the offerings on the menu are country Italian they require a country Italian wine – Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. I know it’s a bit of a con, could be wrong, but who doesn’t love this stuff? So, we had a bunch of very good MdA’s; not all truly simple (and a very nice Morellino di Scansano, too). A very tasty MdA arrives next Saturday – 2012 Villa Medoro Rosso del Duca Montepulciano d’Abruzzo #367160 $19.95. The brochure says that it’s versatile. I’d say yes to that. But, don’t see that as meaning that it doesn’t have its own personality or doesn’t do anything really well. It certainly does. It does full, gutsy, and lip smacking very well. Someone suggested that it was pretty tannic but I didn’t think so. Maybe a style preference. Bright and fresher maybe than many MdA’s but still quite assertive, this wine would match well with country Italian fare (you knew that was coming, didn’t you) or as a pre-dinner quaff with antipasti. It has that bit of bite that you need to sense with these Italian reds. I like it a lot. On second thought, I’d keep it for something more substantial than the antipasti. Pizza with sausage and mushrooms?

ardalLast but not least is my ubiquitous Spanish selection – 2005 Ardal Crianza #167801 $16.95. Yup, that’s $16.95 for a 9 year old red from Ribera del Duero made by Bodegas Balbás. What? You heard me. This has settled with time in bottle and brings all that red fruit and soft wood both to your sniffy sniff, your mouth’s first impression, and the red fruit plays on the finish too. It’s knows what it is – Northern Spanish Tempranillo. This has enough tannin to go up against a rare burnt something or other. Just enough acid to provide some backbone and lip smack.  I like these wines by themselves which I realize is sacrilegious as they are first and foremost food wines. Too bad – I like ’em by ’emselves. I can savour every nuanced drop. For the wine geeks out there, this is a blend of Tempranillo (90%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (10%). Clearly has seen some wood – I love the way Rioja and Ribera del Deuro wines show the wood – cedary smell and smoky taste.

Bonus reco – this week, I had a great Aussie cab which oddly contradicts my statement above – 2013 Jim Barry The Cover Driver Cabernet Sauvignon #677746 $26.95. Definitely New World CS. Cherries, smoke and a great mouthfeel – level tannins and a bit of acid on the finish. Lower alcohol so no heat whatsoever (13.5% ABV). From Coonawarra, meaning a hit of dustiness. Great BBQ meat wine! Burgers, steak.

Put down the remote, grab a bottle or two and head outside to enjoy the last days of June 2015! Did I just say that June 2015 was almost over? Does that mean that my taxes are late? Shit.

Cheers.

Bill

 

 

 

 

Chicchitti, Bang, Bang – The Red Daily Slosh

5 Dec

alligator

I’ve just returned from a week in Florida where I enjoyed some quality time drinking wine, getting some sun, golfing, and, well, drinking more wine. My friend and I were unable to solve the important riddles of life but we did discover that, Holy Jumpin’, alligators are not as quick on land as myth would lead you to believe. The first or was it the second wine we opened was a Rioja – 2007 Montecillo Reserva and the room quickly filled up with oh’s and ahs. Well, maybe not oh’s and ah’s but, “This sh** is greats!” and “Wow, smell that – no, Bill, I mean really smell it.” Just such a pretty wine, powerful nose with loads of

montecillowinecedary, spicy interest. All grown up, solid, settled in. Medium-bodied, moderate tannins and acidity. Rioja Reserva with a little age like this one is just so dignified and satisfying. So, I decided to source it locally and to my surprise it is offered in the General Listings aisles at the LCBO. But what vintage? It wasn’t given on-line. So, I wandered out to Fanshawe and Hyde Park to pick one up. Now, being a wine snob, I had to get directions to the General Listings section – “It’s just past the ‘Barefoot Strawberry Blush’ aisle end display, keep going until you see the basket of boxed wine. If you reach the red velvet cake-flavoured vodka pyramid, you’ve gone too far.” I said that I was a wine snob. The vintage that’s on shelves here now is mostly the 2009 Montecillo Reserva #621003 $18.95 (with currency exchange, the price at Total Wines was about the same as in Ontario). Now, to try it. This wine isn’t as settled as the 2007. It comes across as a bit more restrained and carries more acid. I like it but will like a lot better after a few years down below. If you can find some 2007 – big recommendation. Update: I’ve just let the ’09 decant for 4 hours and it’s just now starting to open up. Definitely a cellar and finish the bottle candidate. BTW, the label looks black above but is, in fact, blue.

ondarrewineA wine with similar characteristics to the ’07 Montecillo is the 2008 Ondarre Reserva #723452 $18.95. This wine has a darker tone to its fruit and a little less woodiness than the ’07 Montecillo. But, it too is medium-bodied, a streak of acidity that softens a bit with air. These wines would be great to have on hand for the cooler months ahead and the time of year where company comes and expects a sip or two. A nice break in the party season from the same old, same old.

Part of feeling confident in choosing wine for a dinner out or at home is familiarity with the label, producer, grape, etc. That’s probably why, in my home town, every restaurant it seems carries McManis wines. People are familiar with them, confident in what they’ll get. In this case, I don’t get it – I’m not usually a fan of McManis at their price point – well, almost any price point. But, most folks like to stay on a familiar road. The corollary is that my susana_balbo_malbecopinion obviously matters little. But, what I can contribute is a few more labels that you recognize and feel confident ordering. This brings me to Susana Balbo. I haven’t mentioned Susana’s wines in a while but I didn’t cry. The truth is she never left us. Yes, you noted correctly – an Evita reference. I promise it’s my last when mentioning Argentine wine. This week her 2012 Susana Balbo Signature Malbec #079798 $19.95 arrives and I hope it stays a while. This is a superbly balanced wine for this price. I don’t mean all blended together like a smoothie when I say ‘balanced’. It’s just that there isn’t one voice yelling above the rest. It’s more a chorus where you can still pick out the altos, the tenors and the basses but not one dominates – harmonious. This is full-bodied with a bold nose of predominantly berry fruit. In the mouth, it holds some heat (14.5% ABV), a sticky tannin or two on the finish. It is just so tasty and warming. I loved the ’10 (reviewed here) but my notes on this vintage seem more effusive.

cicchittiwineIf you’re interested in seeing what some age can do for a Malbec pick up the 2004 Chicchitti Gran Reserva Malbec #155713 #22.95. I first picked this up seemingly years ago through the on-line shopping service of the LCBO. I left it a few years and opened the last one in 2010. It seems that the ’04 appears every year. This is grown up wine. How do you know if you’re a grown up wine drinker? You know you’re not a grown up wine drinker if:

  • When ordering wine in a restaurant, you’re torn between the Pinot Grigio selection and “No, wait – I’m having the featured cocktail – The CNIB Slurpy”, or
  • You can’t quite pronounce Rojaa or Sawveegnoon so you order the Meirlotte, or
  • Your best wine drinking memory is that Purple Jesus night during Greek Week, or
  • You’re thinking, “Wine? Not enough alcohol in it.”

Back to the Chicchitti. This is a deep dark wine with lots of stuffing left – no flab or stewed fruit – still fresh. More interesting in the mouth than the glass. Long spicy finish. I think it would keep for awhile longer but it’s yummy now. If you’re interested in shopping on-line for some smaller availability and premium wines, this is the link. It’s relaxing to spend hours researching wines on a MacBook screen. At least that’s what I tell my therapist.

An untasted suggestion:

I may have had the 2011 Rosenblum Zinfandel #031781 $19.95 from Paso Robles and failed to make any notes. It can happen. I’ve always liked this product in other vinatges. In any event, it’s hitting shelves this weekend. If you’re a zin freak and who isn’t, pick this one up. It’s usually big enough to carry some burnt meat or ham with crackling. Shelve the cab sav and pour this one. But remember it carries 14.9% ABV so no more than a bottle each.

Images courtesy of:

http://www.vintages.com

http://www.thesun.co.uk

 

 

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