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.



December 5th: Hereford Tempranillo Malbec

Hereford Tempranillo Malbec wine review

Wine Advent Calendar December 5th: Hereford Tempranillo Malbec

Here’s a story of a day when I got really mad and uppity.  My email inbox can be peppered with notes about new wines, new beers, new wine gadgets, new styles of tea, new books, new anythings to be honest.

One day I had an email from a London Chap. I’ll just call him a London Chap because the words I used on the day were much stronger and not to be repeated here.

So the said London Chap had written to tell me (and no doubt lots of other people on his group email) about a new wine website which was going to sell practically all the wines under the sun, at great prices and with no delivery charges.

Mmm. I thought. Might be a nice one for the readers to know about. I emailed  him back, tell me more I said.  He rang me. The reason he’d picked up the phone so quickly, he said, was because he saw on my email sign-off that I write for a few newspapers “in the regions” and … get this … he said …
“I forget that people in the regions also like to have a glass of wine now and again.”

I was furious. Though I stayed calm on the phone. How dare he patronise those of us who love wine but don’t live in London!! Needless to say I haven’t written anything about his new venture.

But it got me a-thinking. Generally lots of the trade shows and press tastings are in London and little ol’ me has to book time off from the day job and jump on trains to get down to them. It’s really worth the effort if I can get there, not just to sample the new wines that are coming on the market, but also to meet the PRs who generally are my information lifelines; plus I get to chat with other wine journos.

But there’s one retailer I visit Up North.  I’ve been over to the Co-op’s Manchester offices a couple of times now, to have a talk-through tasting with their buyers. It saves me going to London and Lo!! despite the Co-op being a northern company they know a thing or two about wine.  So up y****s Mr London Chap.

The very afternoon I’d sizzled with resentment at his comments, I was over in Manchester, talking about some Christmas wine options.

Here’s one of them.

Hereford Tempranillo Malbec wine review
My arty piccie of Hereford Tempranillo Malbec

Hereford Tempranillo Malbec

What is it: It’s a red wine. I think you can see that. 

Where’s it from:  Argentina,  the Mendoza region – find out some techie stuff here.

I’ll tell you some more: I tried a handful of reds at the Co-op that Hereford Tempranillo Malbec reviewday; but the reason this one stayed with me was because later that night I went along to a malbec wine tasting at Dace, which is just round the corner from me.  I was destined to have a Big Fat Juicy Red kind of day. Sadly I mislaid my wine tasting notes from that night on the way home (yeh, right, been drinking had we Jane?)

The grapes: The Hereford is equal parts malbec – now hugely embraced by Argentina  – and tempranillo. In Spain, tempranillo is the mainstay of rioja wines

What of the taste? This is a real mix of New World meeting Old World. The winemaker Gonzalo Abadia has taken these two classic grapes and blended them into a wine with young, fresh dark and red berries with a tumble of spice and ever-so slight hints of violets; all held together by a good acidity and tannins which don’t overpower. Great with a midweek winter beef stew when your toes are cold.

The small print. The wine is 12% abv, is unoaked and has a screwcap. The RRP is £6.69 and the wine is available nationwide at the Co-op.