This Viñalba Patagonia Cabernet Merlot 2009 from the Co-op has the snappily-titled award for Best Red Bordeaux-Blend Argentinian Wine under £10 from Decanter.
There is not a huge amount of information on the origin of the wine on the back label, so I have no idea of vineyard location or altitude, but the blend is given as 80% Cab and 20% Merlot.
Immediately on opening and pouring into the decanter, there is a perfumey nose of baked plums and prunes, dark berries, vanilla, woodsiness and herbs.
On the palate, it has a smooth, inky, mouthfilling texture with black cherry and prune fruit, and a touch of minty eucalyptus. It feels supremely balanced and elegant and I can see why this got an award; there's a lot going on, but it's mainly secondary - spice, leather, coffee and liquorice.
It pretty much ticks all the boxes - a Big Red, with a soft-yet-mouthfilling texture, a balanced, spicy warm-heartedness and enough subtlety to make it interesting.
With around a third left, I pour it back into the bottle, re-cork and save it for the following day - 24 hours later and a lot of the up-front fruit has faded, but the texture is still superb; and if it's become less of a fruit-driven quaffer, it does however, really complement a roast chicken dinner with herby chestnut stuffing; with lots of dark berry and prune fruit now showing on the finish, I find myself rather disappointed that the bottle seems to be finished off so quickly.
The Decanter judges commented that the wine was “elegant and smooth with a ripe, spicy palate backed up by firm tannins. Juicy with a faint herbaceousness too and a smoky tinge giving prodigious depth.”
£8.99 (on offer at £6.99 from 7 December 2011 - 17 January 2012) exclusive to The Co-operative, provided for review.
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Co-op wine - website
Vinalba - http://vinalba.com/