Thursday, March 8, 2012

Terrific Values From An Unexpected Quarter

Something like 72% of all wine sold in the US is below the $8/bottle price point.  So when samples in that range come across my radar, one hopeful hand is on the corkscrew and the other, skeptical hand pinches my nose.  Sometimes, every once in a blue moon, surprise ensues.  This is one of those times.

In addition to being priced at the lower end of the spectrum (technically MSRP is $10.99, but you'll likely find these wines for $7.99), these have another strike against them: they're Argentinian.  Now, before you get your panties in a bunch and cry foul over that crack, let me just say that it has been my experience over many dozens of bottles from Argentina that I have not had the best of luck.  There are, of course, exceptions, but generally speaking, I'm not reaching for the Mendoza shelf too often.

All the more reason these were welcome surprises - most especially the Chardonnay.

(Disclosure: these wines were received as press samples.)

2010 Bodega Elena Mendoza Chardonnay
Wow.  Way better than expected.  Balance?  In an $8 Chardonnay?  Hell yeah.  Clean lines of acid frame the medium body and light caramel finish.  Could actually be the most enjoyable Chardonnay from Mendoza I've had at any price point.  Bravo.

2010 Bodega Elena Mendoza Malbec
Another surprise.  Round, plump, and warming.  None of the harsh edges so many Malbecs hit you in the face with.  Good body, real flavor, and quite drinkable. 

2010 Bodega Elena Mendoza Red Blend
Sure, it's got that grapey, all-over-the-place fleshiness, but it's also got a couple of strong things going for it: a nice little streak of caramel comfort and a subtle acidic backbone that almost resembles structure.  Perfectly serviceable - and then some.

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