Wine Wednesday: Alamos Malbec vs Crios de Susana Balbo Malbec

Malbec is a wine varietal I really like. It tends to be flavorful but easy to drink and is generally a good value in the states - you can find a lot for $20 or less that are pretty good. I also went to Argentina last year, which is the premiere Malbec growing region in the world currently, and became familiar with a lot of the names of the producers. In the US, Malbec is currently becoming very popular according to our old pal Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV.

With that in mind, I tried two Malbecs from BevMo recently and had a pretty good experience: the Alamos Malbec '09 which was $9.99 at BevMo and the Crios de Susana Balbo Malbec '08 which was $12.99 at BevMo.

The Alamos Malbec - which is from perhaps the most famous Argentinian winemaker, Catena - surprised me by being much more one dimensional than anticipated. Sometimes in wine tasting notes you'll see a wine described as a "fruit bomb", meaning it just explodes on your palate with bold fruit flavors. I think the Alamos qualifies as a fruit bomb for me, but I don't mean that as a big compliment. All I got was an up front blast of strawberry, overripe cherry, and slight tobacco flavors, then the mid palate and finish became hollow and thin. The Alamos tasted generally unbalanced and overly simple to me, so I don't strongly recommend it unless you really like bold, fruity, but simplistic wines.

The Crios de Susana Balbo Malbec, on the on the other hand, was more interesting to me. It was also fruity up front, but the fruit had some slightly sour components like cranberry or sour cherry versus being overripe in the Alamos. It was also a bit more floral or even somewhat herbacious (or minty? not quite sure); those more subtle flavors came out in the mid palate which was not as hollow as the Alamos. The Crios didn't rock my world (or "melt my face" as GV would say), but I did really like it for a $13 Malbec and would recommend it if you are getting into Malbecs.

Other random Malbec note - the best entry level type Malbec we had in Argentina was called Malma by Bodega NQN. Every member of our group, from parents to kids, liked that Malbec. I haven't been able to find it near me in the States, but if you see it I recommend it as a good, delicious starting point for trying Malbecs.


  1. Uh - I think you're 2.45 million light years ahead of me when it comes to palate sophistication.

  2. Yeah I think we've covered this slightly in your beer section. Let me put it this way - to me, the Crios tasted better than the Alamos. It's worth the $3 extra if you want to drink a Malbec.

    Is there a way I could phrase this review that would make it easier for random non-wine people to understand? I always worry about that.

  3. Nope - I like it this way. I eventually want to begin tasting what you post/recommend to see if I can begin to discern the different flavors you mention. I'd hope for your posts to be my teacher, of-sorts.