Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Two Argentinean Reds

I hit it lucky the past week with a pair of good value red wines from Argentina. Both wines are currently on sale at the BCLDB, meaning that for a 4 week period their retail price has been reduced, in each case by $2 per bottle. This is a practice, known as LTOs for Limited Time Offering, is used by agents to create interest in their wines, sometimes just to get the brand noticed, sometimes in order to reach sales quotas required to keep the brand listed. Often this practice seems futile to me, I mean is a $1 discount on a $25 bottle going to make me buy it ? Unlikely.

In the case of these two wines the discounts did drive my purchase, for different reasons. In one case it brought a known quantity into everyday drinking range, and in the other case it dropped the wine into I'll take a chance range. The first wine is the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from the Don David range of wines, the third of five tiers of wines Bodegas El Esteco in the Cafayette region of Argentina, way up high. This wine is a consistent value at it's regular retail of $15.99 but when placed on sale becomes perfectly affordable for everyday quaffing.

The wine is robust and typically Cabernet with black fruits and cocoa in the nose and a distinct note of smoked meat and peppers, the flavours are rich, this is new world fruit driven cab, but there is enough tannin to keep things in check and complement red meats. I opened this 30 minutes before dinner and served it with a roasted striploin of beef, it was a delicious combination. I will likely buy a half dozen bottles of this before the sale price ends to keep on hand for better dinners, and hope it goes back on sale when grill season arrives, it is perfect burger wine.

Next up was the I'll take a chance wine, the Reserva Syrah from Santa Julia. Santa Julia is one of the ranges of the massive Familia Zuccardi winery, Argentina's third largest, and is produced in the dry, lower altitude area of Mendoza. Generally I'm not likely to spend $15 on a "Reserva" from a big box winery but the $2 discount swayed me and we tried this with pizza with happy results, the wine is full bodied with lots of herbs, pepper and red fruits in the profile. There is a fresh acidity to it that would limit it's ageability but made it a nice match with the tomato, cheese, mushroom, salami combo on the pizza.  

Unfortunately this wine is in limited supply, less than 400 bottles in the province, so I fear the discount may be for the purpose of removing any stocks prior to delisting. If you see it on a shelf at the current retail of $12.99 I'd recommend grabbing a bottle or two.

So, in summation, I had good fortune with a couple of discounted wines, one new and one already a fave. I generally use the discounts to buy wines I'm already familiar with but looking back over past tasting notes I've discovered that a number of wines that are currently in rotation on our table got their start as LTOs so I guess the discounting works. I guess the lesson is to pay attention to those sale tags when you're shopping in government stores and you may be pleasantly surprised.

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