Screaming Values Malbec winners for a song – Crios Malbec 2011

In the weeks ahead I will offer several short articles on superb values from Argentina. Along with Spain and Southern France, Argentina is one of the world’s richest sources of full-flavored red wines at very reasonable prices.

You can pay up to a hundred bucks—or even more—for one of Argentina’s icon malbecs, but you’d have to be very rich, or very crazy, to do that, as it’s possible to enjoy an outstanding bottle for one-fifth that price. Continuing strong sales of Argentine wines in the U.S. make it clear that consumers have figured this out.

My coverage of new releases from Argentina this spring begins with some great malbec values: wines that rated 88 or 89 points (i.e., excellent) in my extensive annual coverage in the current issue of the International Wine Cellar and carry full retail mark-ups of $15 or less. That is some serious value, especially considering that most of these wines can be found for even less in many major metropolitan markets. Recent vintages in Argentina have been conducive to the production of red wines with intensity, ripeness and energy. The market today is awash with good choices, but of course in the under-$15 range there are also many, many strictly generic wines well worth avoiding.

Here are some to look for. I should note that full tasting notes are provided for hundreds of the top Argentine wines of every stripe in the current issue of the International Wine Cellar. A short-term subscription, available for as little as $19.95, gives you immediate access to the current issue of the IWC (not just Argentina but the northern Rhone, 2009 red Burgundies and the best reds wines of northeast Italy), as well as to the IWC’s massive archives, which include nearly 90,000 tasting notes and scores.

Finally, it’s hard to go wrong with the Crios line-up of wines from Susana Balbo. Her 2011 Crios Malbec Mendoza ($15; Vine Connections) offers quintessential malbec aromas of crushed blackberry, licorice and violet. It’s compellingly ripe and sweet, delivering mpressive volume and breadth for the price range. With this vintage Susana’s son Jose Lovaglio has take over the Crios label, and he’s gone to all French oak to age his wines.