- 2017 Pontificis, White Rhone Blend, Pays d’Oc, France ($6.99 @Trader Joe’s in California)
- 2017 Ben Marco Malbec, Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina ($9.99 @Costco, in California – Item #101580)
This week’s pick from Trader Joe’s:
Produced in the Languedoc-Rousillon region of France, this wine is a blend of three local grape varieties: Viognier (55%), Rousanne (35%), and Marsanne (10%). It’s an impressively delicate and elegant white blend.
With aromas of apricots, white flowers and dried fruits, this wine has a long finish and is a beautiful representation of southern France. It is “cheap and cheerful” and shows citrus flavors alongside white flowers, lemons, grapefruits and green apples. Viognier contributes flavors of dried apricots while the Marsanne and Rousanne add rich texture and notes of almonds and honey.
Enjoy with seafood and poultry dishes, pasta with cream sauces or fresh goat cheese. An excellent value for the price, it could be stand in for those who like Chardonnay.
Languedoc-Roussillon wine, including those labeled Pays d’Oc are produced in southern France. This area spans the Mediterranean coastline from the French border with Spain to Provence. The region has around 700,000 acres under vines and is the single biggest wine producing region in the world, being responsible for more than a third of France’s total wine production. In 2001, the region produced more wine than the United States.
If you are thinking this name and label look familiar, that’s because we reviewed its red twin (a GSM) a while back.
This week’s pick from Costco:
If you have even only scratched the surface of getting to know the wines of Argentina, you have almost certainly heard the name Susana Balbo. She is the force of nature behind the wildly successful Crios brand, which helped put the country on the world fine wine map.
In 1999 Susana Balbo crafted a line of wines to showcase the ripe fruit expression of her sustainably-farmed Mendoza vineyards. Her philosophy is a simple one: grow great grapes and make wines that are true to their place. Susana’s winemaking skills result in wines that express the powerful fruit flavors, ripe tannins and the incredible length and balance that can only come from this one place: Mendoza.
From the bottle: …proffering aromas of fresh black fruit and floral notes of violets. The palate shows great balance, very fine tannins, and a thread of acidity going through its core, lifting it up and going its length. Pairs well with beef, sausages, spiced or grilled pork, medium-strong cheeses, and meat-based pasta sauces. Intense purple colour with aromas and flavours of dark fruit, molasses, chocolate, tobacco leaf, earth and smoke. Well balanced and complex with great length.
The vineyards that source this wine are located in Los Chacayes, Valle de Uco – a high desert at 3,000 feet elevation with plenty of sunshine. The warm days and cool nights allow the grapes to develop ripe and concentrated flavors. For BenMarco, all of the decisions in the vineyard, from how much to expose the grapes to the mountain sun to the harvesting, are made to preserve the purity and the raw flavors from this place.
With a winning combination of cool weather, high elevation and well-draining alluvial soils, it is no surprise that Mendoza’s Uco Valley is one of the most exciting up-and-coming wine regions in Argentina. Healthy, easy-to-manage vines produce low yields of high-quality fruit, which in turn create flavorful, full-bodied wines with generous acidity. This is the source of some of the best Malbec in Mendoza, which can range from value-priced to ultra-premium. (This BenMarco Malbec sells online for nearly $20, so at $9.99, snatch some half price juice if you are lucky enough to find this gem in your local Costco.)
If you’re curious about where Uco Valley is in Argentina, you can find a helpful map from this review of another Argentinian Malbec.
Like the discount retailer Building #19 in Boston used to proclaim, both of these featured wines are “good stuff, cheap!”