Tesco's offerings were quite poor, but luckily Ed from Boutinot came to the rescue when he sent in two samples of Argentinian Malbec. Both come from Nieto Senetiner, the first is the entry level Santa Isabel, the other is the Reserva Malbec.
Nieto Senetiner Santa Isabel Malbec - Mendoza, Argentina.
Really vibrant nose, raspberries, wild strawberries, a hint of violet cremes, with a spicy finish - star anise? On the palate this wine is smooth, the same fruity flavours, with more of a cherry like finish - thinking bon maman cherry preserves. There are some tannins to the wine but they are really smooth and quite well integrated into the wine. I quite like this wine, its young (2006) fresh and fruity. This one is coming in at about £3.50 trade price, so it would be listed for around £18 on the list. I would be really happy to pay that in a restaurant for this wine.
Nieto Senetiner Reserva Malbec - Mendoza, Argentina 2004
Instantly it is possible to tell the difference. This has had some oak treatment, 10 months it seems in French oak (I got that from reading the label, my nose isnt that good!!). This is more dark fruit flavours - there are currants there, but there is also a fig jam like component to the aroma that takes a more dominant flavour. There is vanillin from the oak and a hint of something more exotic, cant place it but the closest flavour would be something like a chocolate ganache - rich, brooding flavours with a hint of coffee. It boasts a full degree of alcohol more than the Santa Isabel, but thats not really evident on the palate. The fruit and the vanilla mocha seem inter-twined, with a hint of cinnamon lightly sprinkled on top. Its got a longer finish, the tannins are more dominant, still very smooth, but the teeth are a touch more furry after drinking this than the Santa Isabel. I would probably serve this with food, whereas Id be happy to drink the Santa Isabel on its own. This one comes in at £5.05 trade price, meaning it would sit on the list somewhere around the £24 mark. Again Id be quite happy to be paying that for this wine, especially with a nice duck and beetroot salad.
So I guess the aim of this WBW is to see if the reserve wines offer better value than the "standard" wines. These are both good wines, and I think that each would have its own place. If I was having a garden party/bbq and wanted something easy drinking, gluggable and that would be nice on its own or with food I would choose the Santa Isabel. If I was sitting down in a restaurant with a nice meal and good company then I'd probably choose the Reserva. Turns out we are going to list the reserva on the Brasserie and Banqueting lists. So nice result for Ed!