$4.99 and it’s GOOD!
February 21, 2012
My better half was grocery shopping, and came across this bottle with a nearly nondescript shelf talker label, which simply stated, ” $4.99 and it’s Good”. A number of motivating factors convinced her to bring some home. The first was without a doubt, a desire to zing my bargain hunting trophies, another was the Malbec-Bonarda blend itself, and the clincher was that this budget bottle was offered at the Woodstock Farmer’s Market, where the little signs are normally pretty involved, and we tend to trust their selections.
The Argentine Zamarro Malbec-Bonarda label was launched along with a chenin blanc/torrontes version a couple of years ago, during the down market, using the Two-buck Chuck formula of buying up overstocked premium wines in bulk, at a hefty discount, and passing that savings on to the customer. The recession of the late 1980’s - early 1990’s introduced me to the value that could be found in Chilean wine, and while I was surfacing bottles of very good wine for $2.99 -$4.99 each ($6.50+ in today’s commodity dollars), they were still established brands like Vina Santa Rita, and as such, not the same model as these current brands which are quickly developed and market targeted.
That said, the ability to find a perfectly acceptable table wine today, for a fiver, can do wonders for bringing wine culture to a wider audience. It’s good to have access to an everyday wine, and one that you can pour unhindered, at parties not solely populated by cork dorks. Critics, wine writers, bloggers alike tend to become attenuated to “better” wines, because they have easier access to them…and because they are in the know, wines that are merely GOOD, just do not make the grade. Well, for the majority of folks, we can’t always let perfect, or even 89+ points, be the enemy of the good. Not often are mentioned those low B grade wines, as if they were only worthy of disdain, when in fact the rating system states that 80 to 84 = Good: a solid, well-made wine. If only wines got extra credit, for quality to price ratio, within the 100 point system. For what it is worth, we take QPR into account here.
When I did a little looking for info about this wine, I was glad to come across, high up in the search results, local Valley News wine columnist Warren Johnston’s review of the Zamarro, and took notice that the picture of the bottle showed it to be conspicuously empty. I did not photo the whole bottle, but I can assure you, mine is empty too.
Served with a simple meal of turkey cutlets rolled in Italian breadcrumbs, and sauteed in very light oil, alongside fresh rice, and a green salad.
Aromatics of meaty plum skin, licorice, and vanilla make the smell already worth the price of admission. In the sipping, it is mid-weight, very soft acidity, wide tangy tart plum skin is back, with a pretty well integrated wood spice that lingers. $4.99, and it’s good.