Ho ho ho!! While away for the holidays managed to try some stuff not available from our local wine monopoly (aka the "SAQ" - the "societe des alcools du Quebec for those of you who live in the free world). Prices for these wines are as paid in BC, Canada. First up was the Luigi Bosca, Reserva Malbec, 2004
Mocha blueberry nose with hints of coffee and a thick, almost syrupy mouthfeel. Classic malbec on the palate - pomegranate and blackcurrants. A "good" wine, "okay" value at $23. Taking a turn for the worse we tried the Bianchi, Cabernet Sauvignon 2005,
also from Argentina. Now earlier versions of this wine have made Wine Spectator
lists with scores of "90". This vintage is however challenged - somewhat harsh mouthfeel with quite the vegetal flavour profile (especially green peppers)...this is not very pleasant (tastes like the grapes didn't ripen, which shouldn't happen in Mendoza). An "okay" wine, waste of money at $19.
Now, you want value??? Try the Pascual Toso, Malbec 2006
(also from sunny Mendoza). This isn't even a "reserva" wine but yields a medium bodied but generous mouthful of pomegranate (confirmed by chewing on a handful of those pomegranate seeds seen in the glass above) mixed with currants that ends on a spicy note. A "good" wine, and the best $13 malbec I've had yet. Buy it all.
The next two wines we tried had the ubiquitous high ratings scribbled beside them (one got a "91" by Parker, the other a "90" by the Wine Enthusiast
or Wine Advocate
or some other Wine Snob magazine. So, what did we plebians think? The Bodegas Ercavio, Tempranillo Roble, 2004
was a deep ruby colour with concentrated, almost pure backcurrant flavours complete with tartness on the finish (ever had a not-too-sweetened blackcurrant crumble? the flavour profile is identical). I bet Parker loved it's "purity". Guffaw. Might as well eat blackcurrant crumble!!! If you like new world "fruit-but-nothing-else" wines, this is up your alley, and not too pricey at $19. If you hate the style, you'll hate this and consider it a waste of dough.
The Chateau Pesquie, Terrasses, Ventoux, 2004
is a medium ruby colour, medium bodied, soft and velvety with leathery undertones. A "plain jane" good wine, played off the turkey admirably, but how a tasting pro gave this "90" points is beyond me. Okay value at $17.
Lastly, had to try this one because of it's name - the same as our hostess for Christmas dinner!! Sarah's Blend
by Marquis Phillips
of Australia. Sorry, forgot the vintage, I think it was '04.
This is fairly complex stuff - black fruit on the nose but also cloves and cruciform veggies. Vanilla is added seamlessly to the flavour profile. This is a full bodied in-your-face effort. "Wow". Worth the $24 too.