2017 Susana Balbo, Crios Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina
Wine of the Week with Annette Tomei
At this point, most of us are familiar with Argentine Malbec. For many, it has become the generic red wine order and the benchmark for personal flavor preferences. We find something we like and stick with it. Sometimes, in that process we may stop paying attention – stop tasting. I thought this would be a good time to step back and really taste a wine I’ve taken for granted. When the stars align, it can be like falling in love all over again.
Susana Balbo came from a family with deep viticultural roots in the region. She became the first woman in Argentina to receive a degree in Enology in 1981. She then proceeded, through effort and hard work, to become one of the most influential women winemakers in the world. Her influence does not, however, stop with her wines. Susana Balbo Wines is on the forefront of work with such issues as “food safety, environmental sustainability, and corporate social responsibility.”
Crios is an offshoot of Susana Balbo Wines. This young, socially and culturally purposeful brand introduces the wines of Argentina to a new generation with a voice and price point that speaks to them. It also provides a delicious way to reignite the interest of long-time lovers of good Argentine Malbec.
About this wine
Aromas of cherry cola, sweet spices, and toasted oak were familiar and comforting. On the palate, the dark Bing cherry notes were accompanied by a pleasant tart bittersweet herb and spice flavor. If you’ve ever had the Italian soda Chinotto, it’s like that. If not, think sweet-tart-earthy cranberry and spiced black tea. There’s just enough acidity to carry the big lush flavors without washing them out, and just enough soft tannins to please without taking over by the end of the glass.
What really drove this Argentine Malbec straight to my heart was how it showed up with food. The first time I tasted it was with steak, fries, and caramelized Brussels sprouts. I knew it would be great with the steak. What really surprised me were the Brussels sprouts – the wine stood up to the bitterness and even showed off more cranberry in the finish. The second time I tasted it with chile rellenos. This was another falling in love moment – the slight oakiness of the wine balanced the golden crispy crust, the tart but lush fruits accompanied the chile and cheese in the same way that the traditional pomegranate garnish would.
From the beginning of this tasting, I knew why I have been a long-time fan of Malbec from Mendoza. If your palate needs a little refresh when it comes to Argentine Malbec, stock up. The average price is just higher than $12/bottle, and well worth the extra couple dollars from most weekday wines from Argentina. It’s still a steal. While you’re at it, try the Crios Torrentes and Rosé… and then maybe splurge a little on the higher-level Susana Balbo Malbec.
Ready to get intimate with Susana Balbo? Find your nearest retailer with Wine Searcher.
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