Venta Vieja Malbec

Wine to buy or avoid – March 2015

In search of which wine to buy and which to avoid, this month I turn to two merchants – one solely dedicated to wine as Sunday Times Wine club and a second multi-sector grocer as Ocado.

39103_5 Sunday Times Wine Club was my end of 2014 discovery, when I joined them, and the experience so far was quite seamless.

To start with, they have offered a good welcome gift (I reckon I got a pair of crystal red wine glasses) and a half price case to try them out (I obviously have chosen a wonderful Spanish red mixed case).
Every time you are to have your case due (mine if now scheduled at once per quarter) you can go online and make changes to your order – change the amounts or replace some bottles altogether with adding some wines you want to try this time (in my case they are not to be necessarily Spanish).

Simply put, you benefit from the case and plan discount, yet you are in control what you are getting and also when (I have altered that couple of times to get some extra cases or delivery dates that suit you).

I will add more wines from this delivery, but this month I would like to concentrate on something off the beaten track: one will come from a relatively unknown Spanish region and another one is made from a grape that is usually associated with a country on a different continent (yet the country is also Spanish speaking!). Intrigued?

Venta Vieja MalbecI have started with the bottle that offered just slightly l4ss alcohol than the other: Venta Vieja, Malbec, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, Consecha 2013.
Cosecha means harvest, so we are talking about a very young wine. You have already guessed that the hint was referring you to Malbec, a grape popularised by Argentina and born in Cahors region of France.
The wine is young yet already powerful – it doesn’t have this leathery woodiness of the famous Argentinian brother, but bursting with fresh blackberry and blueberry flavours, just touches of vanilla and mint. It is straightforward but round, fruity but not lacking spice and herbs.
I’d say it is very good all rounder, which maybe lacks the ‘je-ne-sais-qua’ factor, but definitely delivers on main flavours, just right for your bbq!

The first wine was at 13.5% abv, so moving up the strength I have got a bottle of Castillo de Almansa 2008 from Bodegas Piqueras from DO Almansa (this one is 14.5%).

Castillo de Almansa 2008I must add that being a fan of Spanish wine I have never ever come across this DO and need to google it as we speak! Apparently it is a eastern neighbour of the quite central region of Castilla – La Mancha, so it a bit closer to Mediterranean, yet not exactly reaching it yet.
The soils are poor, stony and the climate is very warm in summers and quite cold in winters, which all make it an interesting (un-Spanish like) combination to produce both powerful, but elegant wines.
The wine is indeed powerful and bursting with fruitiness, its black fruit and spice (vanilla, cloves) are prominent, yet aristocratically smooth and not overpowering. This red is very round, even being on the powerful side, which gives a hint of a careful winemaker’s job. I personally like the wines which are not just straightforwardly fruity, but deliver a mix of herbal, oaky and spicy notes which make your mind wander and try to catch the sensations when they occur.
I will be having this wine with a roast duck and it is a great match for the gamey yet quite fatty bird.

These two wines deliver two very different taste experiences for you, but you won’t be disappointed – just avoid drinking the second one too early on your day off, it can knock you and your company off (pleasantly, but also unexpectedly). Enjoy.

Finally, I turn to Ocado for another new wine to taste.
My eyes are drawn to Chateau Bru Lagardette 2012 from Cahors, France.Chateau Bru Lagardette 2012

One of the reasons is that the location of the vineyards is very promising in terms of an increased phenolic compounds (read, tannins) content, which is so good for your health. Secondly, this was simply a birthplace of Malbec grape. Yes indeed, it was Old World, and not Argentina!

The wine is earthy, leathery, expresses some black cherry and hints of vanilla and pepper. Fruit content is sort of playing a back vocal as this expressive earthiness takes over. It is quite typical for French wines to be restrained and not overly fruity, as for example some of the matured Bordeaux wines, so it won’t be your usual Argentinian Malbec palate.
I must add that tt is also quite thin, so even if the earthy notes are something you like, I know I do, the wine is just not delivering on the depth. It is quite a disappointment really.
I would say, skip this one – it is not bad, but just acceptable. Do we need to compromise?


P.S. One interesting (I hope) fact about Cahors: in Ukraine,w here I am originally from, there is quite a tradition to produce a wine that has a name of ‘Cagor’, a church wine, deep in colour and high in alcohol and deep in colour. I wonder whether the Medieval Ukrainians visited that French region, tasted some sweet wine and decided to bring this to their own country? They probably were priests…

About The Author


Dimitri is passionate about wines, food to go with it, happy & healthy lifestyle, digital marketing, start-ups and entrepreneurship. is about new organic wines in the UK, what to buy or avoid on the retailer shelves; tips on healthy and happy wine lifestyle, but also provides reviews and rankings for organic wines. Get in touch please, I am always on a lookout for new ideas and connections! Cheers.

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