We're all on a budget.
My budget usually includes wines that are around $15 -$20. On special occasions I stretch (I don't spend on clothes, I spend on wine!). But as I've said about a million times on the blog and in the podcast, I love a bargain. Who doesn't? No one I know. I get the question all the time: "I'm on a tight budget. Are there any good wines for $10 or less?"
Since I don't always shop for wines at $10 and under, the answer I would usually give was "not many" and list a few I knew. Well, that's not good enough. I decided to go to my favorite wine shop that has a big international selection (some of the best deals are from abroad) and get a case of wines in that price point.
I'm working my way through it and will post at least weekly with a quick review of each of these gems and duds. I want to give us both an arsenal of inexpensive wines that we can stand behind! Some are around $10, some less than $10 and some a bit more. No matter what, they can fit into a tight budget well.
We start out the project with a total win! Yay!
The Wine: 2011 Zolo Malbec
Quick note on the producer: Zolo makes great value wines. The winery likes to point out on the bottle that their wines are made from sustainably farmed land. If you're a regular reader/podcast listener, you know I think this is complete crap but I do think if they are this dedicated to the marketing strategy promoting good environmental/social stewardship that they may eventually pursue organic farming, which could make the wine even better. I'll be on the lookout for any changes and keep you posted.
And now to the wine:
It is from: Mendoza, Argentina
Alcohol: 13.8% (on the high side)
Color: Lighter than many Malbecs I've had, this was more a raspberry, cherry color. Just by looks I expected a lighter style wine, but color is such a poor indicator of flavor, I couldn't make a judgement.
Smell: For $10, this packed a HUGE punch. The wine had so much going on. I had to check the receipt to make sure it was actually $10. It was spicy as hell. Cloves, nutmeg, baked plums, baked cherry, baked raspberry, baked blueberry -- it was like a berry crumble. A second sniff and I got a good hit of vanilla, licorice, a little wet earth, and cumin (think Indian food or Mediterranean style lentils).
Taste: A very well made wine. It tasted like it smelled -- like a baked berry pie with cloves. It had a strong hit of black licorice, and was a little spearminty. And the fruit was juicy -- there was lots of bursting flavor but it wasn't over the top. The wine had a medium level of mouth-drying tannin, noticeable acidity, and although it was on the high side, the alcohol was in check -- a fabulous balance with everything there, but no one component dominated.
This may be the first Malbec I've had for this price that tasted very obviously like it was from a mountain vineyard (link is to a video I made explaining) -- a perfect blend of fruit, tannin, and acid with nothing competing. I usually find inexpensive Malbecs to be over-the-top fruity and hot from the high alcohol. Not so with Zolo.
Drink or sink?: We're starting this project off right! This is a new standby. It was spicy, complex and better than some $20 Malbecs out there. I highly recommend this, will be buying it regularly, and will bring it to people's houses as a crowd-pleaser. A great wine for the money.
For more about the grape, listen to the podcast on Malbec. We go into detail on the grape and on Argentina.
January 24, 2013
We're all on a budget.