Co-op Argentine Malbec San Juan: A red wine with the chillax factor

I’ve been trying to get my act together as I head towards some massive wine exams in about three weeks’ time.  I have loads of stuff in my head, and in a supporting role, a fair bit of wine in my glass (and occasionally an Argentine malbec).

Sometimes life shouts out “take a back seat” or “chillax” (well maybe not that exact term, I don’t know anyone who says that).

The reason why we’re here

I picked up this Co-op Argentine Malbec San Juan on the way to collect the doggie from the doggie minders (her second mum) the other day. It had been a LONG day.  I needed simplicity in my life. To be honest, I needed a b****y glass of wine.

Then, about 30 minutes later, as I was sipping away,  I remembered that I used to write these little snippety review things for you. Just a bottle of wine. The basics. And all that.

So that’s why we’re here.  I want to be organised and share the love again.

Co-op Argentine Malbec review
Co-op Argentine Malbec

Co-op Argentine Malbec San Juan 2018

What is it:

It’s an Argentine malbec, funnily enough! The clue is in the name.

Where’s it from: 

The San Juan region.

I’ll tell you some more: 

San Juan nestles in the shadow of the Andes, to the west of Argentina. Over on the other side of the mountains, Chile makes its linear stamp on the world.  The San Juan capital lies 90 miles north of Mendoza.

You can find out lots more here, at the Wines of Argentina website, but I’ll summarise.

San Juan is the second biggest grape and wine-producing region in the country; there are five valleys in the region, all growing vines. It is a region which many believe has the capability to produce world-class wines.

The grape: 

Malbec goes hand in hand with Argentina, even though its origins are  in Bordeaux. The grape was brought over to Argentina in the 1800s. It quickly established itself.  Malbec accounts for almost 40% of the planted red varieties in Argentina.

What it says on the vin

Ok then, the bottle notes. There’s lots going on here, not just on the colourful front label, but also the back.

We’ll stick with the front for now and …
“Intense and rich, bursting with flavours of raspberry and plum. The perfect partner with steak or spicy sausages.”

It’s a wine which has a lot to say for itself, because on the back the enthusiastic marketeers say:
“Dark, dense and polished, this sexy blend of depth and vivacity has a mix of sweet blackberry and boysenberry fruit laced with incense and cigar box. The long, intense mineral finish lets violets and lavander [sic] notes shine through.”

 All that packed into a bottle of wine and a spelling mistake thrown in.

A swivel and a swirl and a sniff and a sip … 

So does all that lavish praise stand up to scrutiny. There’s no doubt the label shouts out “vivacity”. To recap, I bought this as a weekday wine, as solace to help me relax. It did all of that.

The first night I tried this, I was having sausages (because the dog gave me that “I need sausages” look). She ate hers before the addition of gnocchi and spicy tomato sauce as she wouldn’t have been too enamoured with that combo. However, this wine was.

It is a full-bodied wine which tickles your nose with raspberry and pepper;  some plums too. I thought a bit harder and there’s some dense dark fruit down, down deep. It has a fair zap of acidity, dashed with pepper but not a huge amount of fruit. The spice is the lasting legacy in the mouth.

It’s such an easy sip to sip; I’ve dashed these words off while watching Manchester City thrash Watford in the FA Cup Final (only City fans will be happy about that).

The remaining wine will see me safely into the start of Eurovision.  I haven’t grumbled, I’ve just relished the pleasure of enjoying a glass of wine without having to concentrate too hard.

The small print

Co-op Argentine Malbec San Juan is 12.5% abv.  It’s available in many Co-op stores (tap your postcode in the link)  and I bought two bottles for £10 (in May 2019).   The wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.



World Whisky Day: Here’s five ideas if you want to join the celebrations

World Whisky Day Photo by Quiony Navarro on Unsplash

You can’t beat a reason to celebrate something, and here I’m bringing you a celebration of whisky. On Saturday May 18, it is World Whisky Day,  and so it would be wrong of me not to bring you a selection to try.

World Whisky Day: Scotland

J&B Rare Whisky (RRP £22.50, Waitrose) is a blend of 42 malt and grain whiskies and was a favourite of the Rat Pack (Sinatra, Dean Martin and chums).

At the heart of J&B Rare are malt whiskies from Speyside.

If you’re a bit nervous dipping your toe into whisky (not literally, please) then this is a great place to start. It is a pale, light, subtle whisky. There’s notes of spice, baked apple and pear, with a touch of vanilla.

World Whisky Day: Ireland 

The Silkie Irish Whiskey (RRP £29.95,, is so named after mythological seals, found along the Donegal coast. They came ashore to dance and turned into beautiful maidens which men found hard to resist.

That’s the effect of one glass too many I guess.

Silkie, from Sliabh Liag in County Donegal, is a blend of malt and grain whiskeys. It has aromas like the coastline, fresh and breezy, with hints of green fruit and a subtlety of honey. A tingling zap of ginger hurries along the flavours of citrus, orange zest and honey.

World Whisky Day:Wales

Penderyn Legend Single Malt Welsh Whisky (£24, from £32 at Asda until May 22). This whisky is created in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons in South Wales. It spends time aging in Bourbon casks and is then finished in Madeira casks.

What does this mean? Bourbon distillers use their barrels once and so there’s plenty available. In turn, many whisky producers don’t want new barrels to overpower their precious liquids.

When a whisky finishes aging in a bourbon barrel, it is transferred to a barrel which once held Madeira wine. This adds further flavour nuances. Penderyn has aromas of fresh apples and citrus and an aftertaste of Madeira cake and sultanas.

World Whisky Day:England

Adnams Single Malt English Whisky (£34.99, is
made with 100% East Anglian malted barley. The whisky is small-batch and copper-pot stilled in Suffolk.  The whisky ages in new French oak barrels for four years and then it is bottled.

This whisky has aromas of milky toffee (the ones my dad used to like, a sort of Werthers Original) with stone fruit and teases of spice. The flavours aren’t shy! The spice readily stands up to be counted, but notes of fruit and honey tell it to behave itself.

World Whisky Day:USA

TINCUP Whiskey (RRP £32.95, is named after an old mining town in Colorado, which itself was named for the tin cups miners used to sip their whiskey. A tin cup nestles on top of the bottle and this can be used to sip the whiskey.

I tried it too, with no spillages. (There’s a first).

It’s a blend of two American whiskeys, aged in charred oak barrels.  A small amount of Colorado single malt whiskey is blended with Bourbon, from Indiana. The resulting blend has a rich nose of ginger, vanilla, orange and pepper and a warming lushness in the mouth of spice and toffee. Lovely.

Discover more at, or @worldwhiskyday on Twitter and Instagram.

First published in over 30 regional newspapers including:
Hull Daily Mail – Leicester Mercury – Cambridge News – Liverpool Echo South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner
– The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Gazette 
Birmingham Mail – Coventry Telegraph  – Paisley Daily Express 

READ: The night I hurried home from work for a telephone whisky tasting