Tag Archives: malbec

Wine of the week: Casillero del Diablo Malbec Reserva 2013


Casillero del Diablo malbecChilean malbec is a wine oxymoron. The Argentines make malbec, not the Chileans, so what’s the point of something like the Casillero del Diablo malbec? In addition, the Casillero del Diablo brand, made by Concha y Toro, is often undistinguished grocery store stuff, another reason to wonder about the quality of the malbec.

Which is why the first rule of wine writing is to taste the wine before you judge it. The Casillero del Diablo malbec ($9, sample, 13.5%) is much more than it should be, a value quality red that can often be found for a couple of bucks less than the suggested price. Look for some grip, where the wine has staying power in your mouth and not just gobs of fruit. In fact, there isn’t too much black fruit (plums? black cherries?), making this more like an older style of French malbec than a 21st century Argentine one. The oak is muted, and if the middle isn’t very full, it’s not short and offensive, either. The finish has what wine geeks like to call chewy tannins — not overdone, but almost meaty.

Pair this with any red meat, be it hamburgers or something a little more sophisticated, and it would go well with sausages, too. And remember, as you drink it, that tasting wine is the most important — and only — way to assess quality.

Father’s Day wine 2015


Father's day wine 2015The Wine Curmudgeon got a bunch of emails over the past couple of weeks extolling various studies about what dads want for Father’s Day, who buys dad his Father’s Day present, and the most common Google searches for Father’s Day gifts. Most of which was a lot of effort for nothing, because everyone here knows that Father’s Day wine 2015 is the ultimate gift.

Keep the blog’s wine gift-giving guidelines in mind throughout the process: “Don’t buy someone wine that you think they should like; buy them what they will like.”

Suggestions for Father’s Day wine 2015:

Tintonegro Malbec Uco Valley 2012 ($14, sample, 14%): Know how too much Argentine malbec tastes like dark-flavored grape juice? Not this one, which was among the highlights of my El Centro wine class tastings. Look for dark fruit and more freshness than I thought possible in a malbec. Highly recommended (steaks on the grill), and a steal at this price.

Jolie Folle Rose 2014 ($10/1-liter bottle, purchased, 12.5%): The ultimate porch rose, in that this French pink wine is simple enough (sort of lemony-cranberry fruit) to be enjoyable and offers a couple of extra glasses because of the bigger bottle at the smaller bottle price.

Cruz de Piedra Blanco 2014 ($9, purchased, 13%): I suppose there are some crappy cheap Spanish wines to be found, but I’ve yet to find one yet. This white, made with macabeo, usually useed for cava, offers some of the Spanish bubbly’s fruit flavor (lemony-apple?) and a wonderful freshness — and somehow, once, got 86 points from the Wine Spectator. Serve chilled on its own or with any grilled seafood or even brats.

Los Dos 2013 ($8, purchased, 14%): This Spanish red blend, with garnacha and syrah, never fails to amaze me, and this vintage is even better than the 2012 (which was terrific). Lots of red fruit from the garnacha, and the syrah adds some heft and balance.

More about Father’s Day wine:
Father’s Day wine 2014
Father’s Day wine 2013
Wine of the week: Josep Masachs Resso 2013
Expensive wine 73: Pierre-Marie Chermette Fleurie Poncié 2013


Mini-reviews 71: Vin Vault, Rueda, Arido, Avalon


vin vaultReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month.

Vin Vault Pinot Noir 2013 ($20 for 3-liter box, sample, 13%): This California red, part of E&J Gallo’s assault on the booming box wine business, offers much more than $5 a bottle worth of value (since a 3-liter box equals four bottles). Look for red fruit and soft tannins, though it tastes more like a red blend than pinot noir (and my guess is that it has been blended with lots of grenache or syrah). Still, it’s pleasant drinking and a huge step up from most $5 pinot noir.

Marqués de Cáceres Rueda 2013 ($8, purchased, 12.5%): This version of the Spanish white from one of Spain’s biggest producers is made with the verdejo grape. It’s much more balanced than previous vintages — the lemon fruit is more rounded and it’s less harsh. A steal at this price, though it’s still a simple wine, and its tartness may put some people off.

Árido Malbec 2013 ($10, sample, 13.7%): Just another Argentine grocery store malbec with lots and lots of sweet red fruit, some tannins that don’t really fit with the sweet fruit, and not much else. It’s an example of why I liked this malbec so much.

Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 ($10, sample, 13.9%): This California red is not the old $10 Napa Avalon cabernet, one of the great cheap wines of all time and which now costs as much as $18. But it’s professionally made, if hardly complex, and mostly a value with soft tannins, black fruit, a little mouth feel, and some acid to round it out. If you’re in a grocery store and need a red wine for dinner, this will be fine.


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