Who can resist trying a wine that’s only $4? Most people pass up these super budget wines because they are afraid of wasting money. When you shop at Trader Joe’s as much as I do your fear of the budget wine prices lift because 50% of the time you are getting a value that far exceeds what you pay. The La Finca 2012 Malbec certainly falls into that category with a few caveats.
The La Finca 2012 Malbec comes in at 13% alcohol. I’m not sure it’s 100% Malbec grapes but I’ll explain why a bit later in the review. This wine is grown in the foothills of the Andes. Most of the Malbecs I’ve had lately have all been high altitude. Having a lower altitude may influence the flavor and tannins due to different weather and terrior. The wine was aged in oak for 3 months. I’m going to assume this was a mix of new and neutral oak based on the flavor and aroma. We chilled this wine to around 65 degrees and used a generic stemless wine glass for tasting. The bottle and cork were in great shape. The wine was aerated with our trusty Vinturi. When the bottle opened we experienced a strong and promising whiff of cherry. The wine is a lovely dark purple as a Malbec should be.
The nose on the La Finca 2012 Malbec was incredible for the price. It’s full of cherry both fresh and dried. The cherry was supported by black currant, vanilla, oak, cedar, juniper berry, and the faintest hint of espresso. The flavors of the wine are the same but slightly more muted than the nose would lead you to believe. There was also a note of mushroom and spice from the mid palate into the finish. The finish was very long for a wine of this age and price. The acid was on the higher end of medium without being overkill but I’d certainly say that this is more of a food wine than a sipping wine. Luckily, I’d paired it with homemade spicy sweet potato fries and spicy lamb patties with thyme, rosemary, and caramelized onions. With the sweet potatoes the cherry became almost monstrous in the mouth. It was pretty intense. With the lamb the fruit was subdued which let the vanilla, mushroom, and spices take center stage. The spices went from being a baking spice accord to definite allspice and black pepper. While the wine had all the flavor components of something we would like there seemed to be a few issues. The tannins were way more aggressive than the average Malbec leading me to believe this wasn’t 100% Malbec. They felt more like young Cabernet tannins. This could be due to the lower growing elevation as well. The flavors also didn’t blend smoothly or harmoniously from one note to the next as they might with an older or perhaps higher priced vintage. We took a break from the wine to clean up our table and kitchen post dinner. We were heartily rewarded 15 minutes later with suppler tannins and a much more harmonious flow from one note the next. Not perfect but much improved.
All in all the La Finca 2012 Malbec is a great buy. It’s easily worth $10 to $15 with the following preparation: Chilling to 60 degrees (16 C), aerating, proper stemware (one that has a wider bowl with a medium opening), and a little extra time in the glass before drinking. When this advice is followed we would rate this wine in the 86 – 88 range on the standard Wine Spectator scale. At $4 this is a great daily drinker or because of the outstanding potential the perfect party wine. It’s nice enough to bring to a dinner party as a hostess gift or as a contribution to the fete. I’d also go so far as to say it’s case worthy so you always have some on hand!
Have you tried the La Finca 2012 Malbec? Have another budget red you would like to share with us? Let us know in the comments below!