- 2017 Kirkland Signature Mendoza, Argentina Malbec ($6.99 @Costco; California)
- 2016 Kirkland Signature Columbia Valley, Washingon State Cabernet Sauvignon ($8.99@Costco; California)
See that 91 prominently displayed on the foil of that Kirkland Signature (KS) Malbec? That was awarded by the esteemed James Suckling. I am not a slave to others reviews and point systems, but I have to admit that it caught my attention. So too did the beautiful new label. But most of all, the fact that is was a Malbec from Mendoza (Argentina) – at $6.99 a bottle no less! – made me put a few bottles in my cart.
Argentinian Malbecs are some of my favorite wines in the world. Malbec is grown in lots of places, but it finds a unique and wonderful expression there on the slopes of the Andes Mountains. The fact that is grows so well in Argentina has made it the most planted fine wine grape in the country.
In the glass it’s a pretty, intense purple/red. That’s a promising start. It has aromas of violets, ripe dark fruits and leather. Once sipped, flavors of red and black berries meld with plum and black cherry. It also has lovely notes of toasted oak, vanilla and coconut, all compliments of the (restrained) oak regimen.
Wines made from the Malbec grape are known more for adding flavor than structure, so it’s no surprise that this wine is extremely well-balanced and the tannins tame, which makes it an ideal food wine. It would pair well with roasted or grilled meats, and would even pair nicely as a stand in when enjoying Italian cuisine. Since most of the Argentinian winemakers I have met think steak should be consumed with every meal, it almost goes without saying that it pairs really well with beef.
When friends ask me what they should learn in order to know how to make good wine choices, I tell them to learn which grapes grow well in which regions. Malbec from Argentina is one such example. So too is Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington State, which is the combination in our other featured wine.
Stylistically this KS Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon is similar to the Malbec. It is fruit forward, and its restrained oak and tannins makes it very food friendly. It presents with a lighter color in the glass, more of a brick hued red. It has nice aromas of red berries and wood shop. (The latter had me thinking of my junior high industrial arts class where we would craft napkin holders and lamps out of slabs of pine while trying to go home with all of our digits intact, but I digress.)
In the semi-desert eastern parts of Washington State (where virtually all of their wine grapes are grown) the resulting wines tend to be nicely ripened and with noticeable alcohol (14.5% in this case, compared to the 13.5% for the Malbec) but are not built for aging. They are best drunk young and in the case of this wine, you will be rewarded with nicely balanced flavors of rich, ripe currants and spiced plums.
You really can’t go wrong with either of these two. They are really solid, food friendly wines. Buy them by the case and stock up for the cool nights ahead. But don’t wait too long. These wines weren’t at my local Costco several weeks ago, and there is no guarantee they will be there the next time.