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An attractive, ripe, brambly-fruited vintage for this popular wine. The fruit all comes from Agrelo at approximately 950 metres altitude and a 5% pinch of bonarda in the blend contributes a little more black-fruit character to the nose.
Product Code: AR4021
View all products by Dominio del Plata
After an already long and successful career in winemaking, Susana Balbo described her own winery – Dominio del Plata – as ‘like my third child, a dream come true.’ Susana graduated with a degree in oenology in 1981 – the first woman in Argentina to do so, but this wasn't enough for the gutsy Balbo: she also achieved the degree with honours as the best graduate of her year. Having worked extensively both in Argentina and throughout the winemaking world (Spain, Chile, Italy, Australia, and California among others) since the early eighties, it wasn't until the cusp of the shiny new millennium in 1999 that she finally realised her ambition of making her own wine at Dominio del Plata in the famous Mendoza region.Susana established her winery in Agrelo, assisted by the renowned Argentine viticulturist Pedro Marchevsky who helped plant the vineyards. Susana’s ideas on social responsibility extend to sponsoring the local football club, community dining scheme, and also contributing to the education of their workers’ children. The team at the winery are young and dynamic, enabling Susana to continue with her quest for innovation to satisfy an ever-changing and increasingly discerning world palate. As well as significantly raising the profile of the torrontés grape by using it to make fresh, citrusy white wines, Susana is seen by many as queen of malbec in the country that made the grape truly famous. Her success with this grape ranges from the vibrant, youthful, everyday Faldeos Malbec – a range made for The Wine Society – to the silky, oak-aged Signature (in which she also earns great success with cabernet sauvignon). One of her finest wines - the Susana Balbo Brioso – is an artful blend of cabernet, malbec, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot, and is always a triumph with members. Maybe it is her maternal affection for her wines that has made her so skilled at the art of blending, enabling her to achieve some of the most delicate and balanced aromas and flavours with the malbec grape at staggering value for money (a far cry from its early days as the many-named ugly duckling of the French varieties). Achieving this at a time when few thought women capable of even being winemakers makes this accolade all the more admirable.
It may have been making wine since the mid-16th century (and is the fifth-largest wine-producing country), but it is only in the past decade or so that Argentina has shown wine drinkers around the world what it is capable of. Historically, Argentina has had a healthy domestic market, so exports were never the country's top priority. But as consumption at home slowed, more and more wineries have strived to make an impression overseas.Argentina has now established a reputation for top-quality reds, and has attracted its fair share of foreign investment, from the likes of Château Lafite, LVMH (owner of Krug Champagne and Château d'Yquem in Sauternes, among others), and top wine consultant Michel Rolland.The heart of the Argentine wine industry is Mendoza, in the far west of the country, where more than 80% of Argentina's wine is made. Altitude is a great marker of quality, and above 900m the climate is cool enough to produce fine wines. Within Mendoza, sub-regions to look out for include Luján de Cuyo in the Upper Mendoza Valley, and the Uco Valley, to the south-west of the city of Mendoza. One of the strengths of the region is the quantity of old vineyards, planted to a relatively high density. The climate here is semi-desert and vines could not survive on the low levels of rainfall alone. The Huarpe Indians, who were in the area before the arrival of the Spanish, long ago built a sophisticated system of irrigation channels, many of which form the basis for the modern structures. What rain there is has the unhappy habit of falling in February and March and the harvest takes place in late March, so many vineyards are planted on free draining soils to mitigate against the effects. Flood irrigation is used where the land is flat enough and drip irrigation is increasingly used to give large but infrequent doses of water to the vines. Hail is a significant risk too, with 30% of vines damaged every year. There is less regional diversity in Argentina than you might imagine, because the climatic differences are often negated by the effects of altitude. For example, the region of Salta, in the north of the country, has some of the highest vineyards in the world, at around 2,000m, but the region's northerly location means its climate is similar to Mendoza. The altitude here, and in Mendoza, provides the vines with plenty of ultraviolet light which encourages the development of anthocyanins and therefore colour in the red grapes, hence the rich, deep colour of many Argentine malbecs. When these anthocyanins combine with tannins during fermentation the result is the velvety, opulent texture one associates with the best malbecs. It is one of the chief reasons for the difference between the Argentine malbecs and the firmer, drier versions from the grape’s natural home at Cahors in south-west France. Salta province, more than 1,000 kilometres north of Mendoza, also makes very fine malbec and other reds at altitudes over 1,500 metres, but is also the heartland of torrontés production in Argentina. This cross between país and muscat is a source of wonderfully aromatic and fresh white wines. Many vines here are pergola trained, allowing the grapes to hang down beneath the canopy, shaded from the sun to prevent burning.Soils throughout Argentina’s wine regions vary: alluvial soils such as gravel, silts sand and clay are common around Mendoza and in the Rio Negro area in Patagonia, Argentina’s other major wine-producing area.Rio Negro is also a semi-desert area, far from the cooling effects of altitude in the Andes and the sea, which is 500 kilometres to the east. The Rio Negro, meaning ‘black river’, runs east on a glacial bed that lies beneath the arid plateau. The waters of the river irrigate the area via channels initially built by British engineers in 1828. Frost is a major risk here and it is not unusual to see the smudge pots often used in Chablis employed in the vineyards of Rio Negro. Soils are varied but generally alluvial with some limestone cropping up amongst the pebbles A wide range of grape varieties are cultivated in the Rio Negro and, apart from one or two exceptions, the region has yet to earn the reputation for quality that Mendoza and the other mountain vineyards have achieved.
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"Very good Malbec, with all you'd expect from it. I will definitely buy again."
Prof Roger Barton (08-Mar-2019)
Mrs Victoria Storer-Young (24-Feb-2019)
"A wonderful wine, dare I say it’s an equal to Catena Malbec at a fraction of the price"
Mrs Elissa Patterson (23-Jan-2019)
"Having this tonight to accompany slow cooked oxtail"
Mr I Shepherd (20-Dec-2018)
"Very soft, rounded dark fruit; full-ish body and big flavour. I’ve had a stinker of a cold and this is a nice way to have a drink now I feel like one again. Will be great with the pie currently in the oven. Just gotta hope the baby stops crying. "
Mr Edward Bogira (18-Dec-2018)
"Malbec is a favourite of mine. No problems here, full bodied, fruity and strong. Went well with Italian Pasta with Sausage"
Mr Charles Smiles (28-Nov-2018)
"Full flavour, velvety mouthfeel, absolute bargain for the price. Plan to order a half dozen of these at least. "
Ms Naomi Rovnick (27-Oct-2018)
"This is really delicious - smooth, rounded, packed with flavour and not too much tannin. Definitely good to drink now. Good value for money."
Mr Lucien Carey (18-Oct-2018)
"Fruity, beautifully coloured, and a combination of young wine and tannins expressed the malbec grape perfectly. Great value for money."
Mr Peter McFarlane (08-Nov-2017)
"Deep ruby red. Very fruity on the nose. All dark fruits and rounded finish. Great value. I will buy again"
Mr Tom Rodger (28-Oct-2017)
"A faint strawberry aroma and I didn't get a chemical smell at all. I thought this was a very quaffable wine and good value for the money and I would consider buying more."
Mr Peter Maciver (27-Apr-2017)
"A go to wine for us from 2012 to 2015.
The 2016 vintage had the chemical smell and taste referred to by reviewers and we found it undrinkable and obtained refund for several bottles.
Wait for comments on next vintage."
Mr John Cook (07-Jan-2017)
"Rounded for sure, full, smooth, clean, good value for £7.50, Went well with beef ragu"
Mrs Clare R Turner (22-Dec-2016)
"On the nose there was a predominant smell of sticky back plastic, after some airing this evolved into new carpet. This must me the chemical smell that people were referring to in the 2015 vintage. I thought I'd come back to the bottle 24 hours later after it had had a good airing. It had calmed a lot but still solidly lurking on the fore palette. I don't think it's a fault as such because it nearly resolved into the frankincense/wood resin note of the outstanding 2014 vintage but it had a chlorine like element to it that says "chemical", I have it down as just an unusual complexity which I think may make it a Marmite wine. All of that aside it's a dense dark fruity high quality wine and I enjoyed every sip of it."
Mr Anthony O'Halloran (23-Nov-2016)
"I don't usually like wines so young, but I thought this was splendid. My first Malbec. I will be trying more.
Mostly sour cherry from nose to finish, but with interesting subtle flavours of (to my vegetarian/wholefoods palate) mustard leaf and roquette.
Cinnamon and red boiled sweets too. Very nice."
Mr Peter Nelson (13-Nov-2016)
"was ok but to be honest i found a slightly chemically aftertaste spoiled the enjoyment. not one for me"
Mr Martin Prout (26-Oct-2016)
"We enjoy this Malbec and it's good value for everyday drinking. I am no wine expert, but this seems well-rounded and very palatable to us - and we do drink a fair bit of wine!"
Mrs Margaret Wallace (15-Aug-2016)
Donald Macleod Esq (11-Aug-2016)
"not up to the other Argentine Malbec's I have had, easily drinkable but disappointing."
Mr Martin Reeves (11-Aug-2016)
"I am sorry to say that I was not particularly impressed with this wine. There was a not so pleasant aftertaste which I could not put my finger on. Think this is likely to be a marmite type decision. Have to agree with all Mr Duckett said."
Mr Gordon Allan (10-Jul-2016)
"I am either not as discerning as Mr Brown or else drinking a different wine! I bought three bottles in my last order. Having drunk 2 I found the wine to be overly tannic and dry (even for a Malbec). It also had a chemical like after taste which failed to recede even with adequate breathing. A rare miss from the society"
Mr Stephen Duckett (05-Jul-2016)
"As Mr O'Hallaron said of the last vintage "A fine everyday Malbec for the discerning drinker." Give it an hour in a decanter and its quite sublime, and at £6.75 it's an absolute steal!"
Mr James Brown (02-Jun-2016)
Tamworth Journal (24th May 2016)
soft and smooth, but with intense black fruit and no shrinking violet at 14%
abv. Only £6.75 bottle from the Wine Society. - Rob Price
"Some really intense flavours: Dark fruits, wood, patchouli, frankincense, big savouriness, violets but not unapproachable at all. Certainly blows any supermarket Malbec I've tried out of the water. A fine everyday Malbec for the discerning drinker."
Mr Anthony O'Halloran (01-Dec-2015)
"Tried this on a visit to the Cellar Showroom, and thought wow! This isn't too bad, it was fresh and fruity and a good price. It's an easy drinking wine, in fact quite quaffable no need for food, I would class it as an everyday drinking wine."
Mr Colin Steele (04-Oct-2015)
Mr Jonathan Rippon (02-Aug-2015)
"I'm stunned you can turn out a wine of this quality at this price. Berry fruit, nicely restrained and a reasonable finish. This is my new everyday wine."
Mr Royston Beale (29-Mar-2015)
"The Society's Argentine Malbec is a good value and thoroughly quaffable wine! I recommend it for everyday drinking."
Mr Mark White (05-Feb-2015)
"A really nice smooth Malbec full of fruit. Just as nice to drink on its own as with food. A few more bottles of this will be in my next order."
Mr David Marshall (22-Dec-2014)
"I started a bottle of this last night after letting it stand and breathe. I found it very coarse with a bitter finish. Tastes as though it needs five years in the bottle. A bit too young for me."
Mr Ross Braithwaite (20-Dec-2014)
"This has been a real favourite as an everyday wine, but the latest I have ordered is less to my taste; it is paler and less full-bodied. Sadly I'll need to find an alternative."
Mr Robin Spicer (12-Dec-2014)
"I like this wine for everyday drinking. Full-bodied, lovely berry flavours, a hint of spice. Good value for money."
Mr Michael Pinhorn (13-Mar-2014)
"I bought the 2010 vintage for a party 2 years ago. Many of my guests said how much they enjoyed it. I now have only a few bottles left but they get better and better. The wine has become fuller and fruitier, still with a hint of oak. I hope the 2012 will do as well."
Dr Simon Cooper (31-Aug-2013)
"I commented negatively after my first bottle of this wine finding it very coarse, but I have just opened the second bottle and found it a delight. Is it me???"
Mr Anthony Waite (23-May-2013)
"I intended to drink half a bottle of this for World Malbec day. Ended up polishing off the whole lot! This is a really good wine, spicy and cherry red fruit running throughout, and very smooth wine, very expressive, a real bargain at the price.
I will be buying plenty more of this. Excellent."
Mr Asa Joseph (18-Apr-2013)
"It's an ok wine, but nothing to rave about. About worth the money."
Mr Richard Morton (14-Apr-2013)
"I bought a couple of bottles of this because of so many positive reviews. A beautiful deep ruby colour and plenty of fruit, but I am afraid I found it anything but soft and velvety. Not for me nor indeed my wife."
Mr Anthony Waite (11-Apr-2013)
"I was a bit unimpressed by this wine which I feel tastes cheaper than its price tag. It does improve after several hours of being left to breathe but it's not one I'll be re-ordering."
Mrs Dale McGain (06-Mar-2013)
"Recently bought more of this. Continues to be an excellent malbec, full of ripe fruit with a good backbone of acidity to balance it out. Great for BBQs."
Mr Robin D Smith (18-Aug-2012)
"Frankly, delicious. If you like red wine you will never grow tired of drinking this. Actually, having just had a glass of this wine, I am wondering why I bother drinking anything else."
Mr Mark Jones (07-Jul-2012)
"My wife and I loved this one too. Great value for money."
Mr John Cook (10-May-2012)
"I have had a number of cases of this. I consider it excellent value and a most classy everyday drinking wine. I have introduced a number of non- members to it and they all now ask me to bring a bottle of the wine to dinner parties. Hope the Falklands crisis does not interfere with supplies!
Mr Philip T Murphy (02-Feb-2012)
"Another good Argentinian wine from the Society at a very competitive price. Good depth of fruit. Great with roast beef. Most importantly, mother-in-law loved it!"
Mr Robin D Smith (29-Dec-2011)
"Velvety, plummy, soft."
Mr Ricky Reemer (17-Nov-2011)
"My wife and I both loved this wine - classic malbec and excellent value for money. It is young and high in alcohol so be sure to open it a couple of hours before drinking in order to let the lovely fruit and spice notes develop. I will buy more (and perhaps lay a couple down for a year or so) - the quality of this wine has prompted me to order a bottle of the Exhibition Malbec."
Mr James Maylam (03-Jun-2011)
"Dark ruby in colour, good nose. Very quaffable, with plenty of fruit, lots of vanilla and cream and some oakiness as well. Surprising and very easy to drink. Recommended."
Dr Aref Dyer (15-May-2011)
"Garnet colour. On the nose, there are some plums, jammy berries and a little eucalyptus; oak is just a fraction too aggressive. Brambliness on the palate to go with the berry fruits. Again, the buttery creamy oakiness is a bit too OTT for me, but others may like it. Decent acidity and structure helped by some lovely delicate tannins. This is very drinkable for the price."
Mr William Davies (18-Apr-2011)
"For the money, this wine offers fantastic value. It is full and deep yet has a softness about it as well. It's a great introduction to the Malbec grape and I will invariably add two or more of this to every order I put in."
Mr Nigel Davies (14-Jan-2011)
"A promising, bold cherry-fruit nose, complimented appropriately by a gorgeous blood-red colour is let down by a soupy mouth feel and an overcrowded palate which forces fuggy spices and muddy fruits to jostle for supremacy before a whack of tannins towers intimidatingly over everything around it.
For me, a quality Malbec should be oakier than this whilst its layers of fruit and spice should be balanced and clearly defined. Whilst perfectly quaffable, I found this a little disappointing especially considering the 'benchmark Malbec' tag in the description."
Mr William Davies (19-Dec-2010)
"Lovely wine. Plenty of round and lush fruit (not sure it's plum or cherries as others have suggested). Good with or without food. Full, soft but expressive. Well balanced. Perhaps a bit of liquorice in there and some spice."
Mr Michael Sherwin (12-Dec-2010)
"My problem with this very good wine is precisely that I don't like the taste! Has anyone here tried the Temporada version? Their Chardonnay is drinkable."
Mr John L Moles (04-Sep-2010)
"I would say at the outset that if you like big brambly new world wines and search for value for money-then try it. I found it closed so I decanted it and eventually shook the decanter to add some more oxygen. The chalkyness receded allowing a glimmer of serious extracted fruit. On the plus side it's velvety smooth and cleverly made. If it's to be a food wine then it needs serious spicy meaty rustic cooking. If drunk on it's own you'll need to like the taste because it's all over your senses. Susana Balbo is going to be a name to watch before her wines become very expensive. It certainly tasted just as good the following day so yes I will buy some more to try and understand this wine a little better."
Mr Chris Barclay (22-Aug-2010)
"Rich, deep fruit, round. A winter wine for me, great with roasts. Fantastic value."
Mr Ken Barker (17-Jul-2010)
"An extraordinarily good example of the Mendoza malbec for this kind of money. Rich plum fruit on the nose, admirable balance and fair tannic structure. One of the best wines I've ever had at this price. There will definitely be at least a couple of bottles in every order from now on.
Mr Yoel Brightman (11-May-2010)
"This an excellent wine for the money hence I always seem to be re-ordering it. The quality is remarkably consistent and it seems to go well with many foods. I thoroughly recommend!"
Mr Andrew J P Crisp (09-May-2010)
"Colour: deep, vivid, purplish - when I poured it out it reminded me of Keats's 'beaker full of the warm south with beaded bubbles winking at the brim'. Nose: strong, warm, spicy. Mouth: Full vibrant fruit but perhaps only just holding its own against fourteen degrees of alcohol. But fantastic value and fresh as a daisy thanks to screw cap closure.
Mr Simon Wilson (09-May-2010)
"A gorgeous deep red, but not much in the way of bouquet. Very smooth drinking however providing it is brought gently to room temperature, and a splendid accompliment to roasts. It is ''moreish'', great value and 'grows on you!"
Maurice O Hindle Esq (06-May-2010)
"An enjoyable, full bodied wine, with perhaps a hint of liquorice ?"
Mrs Elizabeth Shiel (28-Apr-2010)
"A lovely wine and good value for money."
Mr Neil Hunter (23-Apr-2010)
"I'm a big fan of Malbec and this is a great example at a brilliant price. Smooth, rich, but not too overbearing, this is an excellent wine."
Lt Conor O'Neill (16-Apr-2010)
"Our daughter visited Susan Balbo's winery and recommended her Malbec. We tried it and were not disappointed."
Mr Richard Lory (16-Apr-2010)
"A rich and smooth red, full of soft black cherry fruit, with agreeable tannins on the finish, reminiscent of cabernet. A wine to match with food; in this instance, enjoyed with Angus beef and grilled vegetables."
Dr Mark Carew (16-Apr-2010)
"I found the Argentinian Malbec a very balanced wine with depth but also a smoothness and rich taste. Highly recommended."
Mr Tony Murphy (15-Apr-2010)
"A very robust wine. Appropriate plum and spice for Malbec. Full of fruit and sunshine. A sound buy."
Mr Thomas Pellow (14-Apr-2010)
"The best malbec I ever had was last October in the Catskill Mountains in Upper New York State. We had gone there to visit the site of the Woodstock festival and found a quaint but friendly community of ageing hippies. After a strenuous day on the hills the local inn offered classy filet steak, eaten with a wine improbably called ‘the ant and the grasshopper’. This Argentinian malbec was dark, rich and had tones of chocolate and vanilla. I have been unable to source it in the UK but the Society’s Argentinian malbec comes close and is better, in my opinion, than the Society’s Exhibition malbec."
Dr Philip S Helliwell (12-Apr-2010)
"An excellent wine. My daughter-in-law is Argentinian and my wife is an excellent cook so we had this wine with Sussex stewed steak (Elisabeth David) and the whole family thought the combination excellent. I have tried a number of Argentinian malbec wines and this is, without doubt, my favourite.It is amazing value. Highly recommended."
Dr L S Illis (12-Apr-2010)
"I very much enjoyed this wine, it was full bodied with big forward fruits. I will say though that it does go well with food, but not necessarily a wine you might simply enjoy on it's own of an evening perhaps. Great value for money, great flavour and to my mind a lovely alternative to an Aussie Shiraz."
Mr Paul Stewart (12-Apr-2010)
"On first opening, i thought it a bit garrulous - but with a bit of air, it was consumed quite quickly .;o) It went very well with a curry, but that might be my predilection for red wine with everything."
Mr John Crawford (11-Apr-2010)
"This Malbec is one of the best value wines that I have had the delight in quaffing ! It is robust enough to be interesting and is yet very easy drinking and, if I have to drink it with any kind of food - it's really just as good !!!
I love most European and especially the French but my interests, after experiencing this wine, have now wondered off towards the South Americas!"
Mr Harvey Harrison (11-Apr-2010)
"Malbec the fantastic forgotten grape of Bordeaux and delightfully presented by the Wine Society at such fantastic value.
Very nice full bodied red, with nice ripe tanins, plush texture and juicy with violet aromas.
Outstanding wine at this price."
Mr Nicholas P Felton (10-Apr-2010)
"Absolutely loved this wine. Good value for money. Thoroughly recommended!"
Mr Scott Lourie (09-Apr-2010)
"Wonderfully full tasty red and superb value for money.
Too high in alcohol for me but otherwise no adverse comments,
Well done Ms Balbo!"
Mr David R McCallum (09-Apr-2010)
"An excellent full bodied wine with a fruity flavour and good finish. Not too heavy.
Easy to drink with any meat dish or on its own,very pleasant with cheese.
Good value at the price, will certainly be buying more."
Mr Teddy Prentice (09-Apr-2010)
"Perfect Malbec/Cot, balanced and delicious. Wonderful value for a very good wine."
Dr Stephen Birch (09-Apr-2010)
"Having been fortunate enough to holiday in Argentina we developed a fondness for Malbec. There is nothing better to accompany the ubiquitous steaks and empanadas that constitute most Argentine meals. And the Societies Malbec is a very good example. Full bodied with plenty of currant flavours this wine represents very good value and after the winter venison casseroles should follow on for the summer barbecues."
Dr Nicholas L Bishop (09-Apr-2010)
"Very nice for the price. Malbec in general is definitely an underrated grape so this is a decently priced, typical example for anyone unfamiliar with it. Not outstanding though. Also lasted well, which is very nice for anyone not wishing to drink a whole bottle in one go."
Miss Eva Marschewski (09-Apr-2010)
"Strong and intense aroma, very nice indeed. Full body and fruity, very easy to drink. I will buy more."
Mr Filippo Molinari (25-Mar-2010)
"Drank this with 4 friends and 4 large rib eye steaks! Went down a storm all round. Excellent value, flavour and finish. Definately be ordering more."
Mr Damian Bullimore (20-Feb-2010)
"This wine featured in our informal 'tasting' (penurious but bibulous) on New Year's Eve, when we were part of a small family group chiefly concerned to blunt the edge of bereavement. First up was a bottle (or two) of Concha y Toro's Casillero del Diablo 2009 Sauvignon Blanc (£5.99-ish). Decent (Concha y Toro never rip you off), with some minerality, though not as expressive as the Society's Chilean Sauvignon Blanc or the el Polilla Sauvignon Blanc. Next, Lascar Carmenere 2008 (£4.95). Initially, rather closed and 'mean'. Opened out after about 30-45 minutes (note: we don't generally decant, as if a wine is ageing or fading, it just kills it). Decent, well worth £4.95, pleasurable within fairly strict limits. Then, Chatau Eulalie 2007. Great expectations in view of consistent write-ups by 'the Buyers' and the alleged excellence of 2007. Attractive, jammy, typically Minervois nose. Then ... OK. No one really liked this. Certainly not great for £6.50. Lastly (within THIS session), the Society's Argentine Malbec (£5.95). Everyone thought this was by far the best of the reds and the best of all including the initial white. It's great value - if you actually like the taste (I don't really).
The following night just two of us drank a bottle of Chateau Franc Couplet 2006 (claret in 'clarets for Christmas' package), say about £7. Different vinous level altogether: dark, elegant nose; wonderful porosity and length. Are supplies exhausted?"
Mr John L Moles (06-Jan-2010)
"Plenty of fruit. Juicy. Good length. 'Holds' for over an hour, unusual in a cheap wine and not automatic in more expensive ones. In that period it certainly develops and mutates. Some may find some of its manifestations over-plummy or over-redolent of eucalyptus (think Euthymol). Needs food. Certainly not negligible."
Mr John L Moles (12-Dec-2009)
"This is a lovely, robust flavoured, easy to drink wine. I would recommend it to anyone wanting something reasonably priced that is suitable for everyday drinking. Very nice indeed."
Mr William Hiscock (26-Nov-2009)
"I've purchased several cases of this wine over the last few months. It's a tasty and dependable table wine for mid-week that tastes a lot more expensive than it is. Tremendous value for money."
Mr Mark Baker (10-Sep-2009)
Birmingham Living (12th May 2014)
"Argentine malbec has
taken the UK by storm and this ... is a very good example. It's powerful with
soft black fruits. - Rob Price"
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The Society's wine buyers work very closely with our suppliers to determine how best to seal our wines. We list below those closures currently in use with a brief description of each.
A technical cork made up of the remnants from the production of natural corks which are ground down into particles and cleaned and then combined using a food-grade polyurethane glue. A cheaper closure which The Society's buyers discourage suppliers from using.
A technical cork made from cheaper-grade natural cork where the naturally occurring pores are filled with ground down cork particles and then the whole is sealed with a food-grade wax coating. Generally only used for wines with a short shelf-life.
Diam corks look like agglomerate corks but are far superior and are designed to put an end to cork taint and random oxidation. The production process chops cork into pieces and sorts the superior, highly elastic, suberin component from the less elastic lignin, which is discarded. It mixes the suberin with microscopic spheres of the same substance used for contact lenses, which fills the voids between the cork particles reducing porosity to air and increasing elasticity without introducing humidity. Finally the pieces are mixed with a glue and moulded under pressure. The mechanical properties of the cork are guaranteed for a certain minimum number of years depending on the grade of cork - for example Diam 2 is guaranteed for two years; Diam 3, 5 and 10 are also available.
The Champagne cork is 90% agglomerate made from cork off-cuts which are ground down, cleaned, compressed and then glued together with two disks of good quality natural cork glued onto the end which protrudes into the bottle.
Natural corks harvested from the cork oak (Quercus suber) forests in Spain and Portugal have been the closure of choice for wine for the 300 years. The bark of the cork oak is stripped from mature trees every nine years. The planks are stored and then cleaned and graded before the corks are punched out of the wood. For wines destined for long-ageing, high-grade natural corks are still the closure of choice.
Cost-effective synthetic 'corks' made from food-grade plastic with a silicone coating (similar to that used on natural corks). Generally used for wines for short-term cellaring.
A glass stopper with a plastic 'O' ring which acts as an interface between the top of the bottle and the stopper, held in place by a metal, tamper-proof seal. Relatively expensive as a closure and not widely used. Can be removed by hand.
A short natural or agglomerate cork with a plastic or wooden top to enable the stopper to be removed by hand. Traditionally used for whiskies, sherries, Madeira etc.
Aluminium alloy screwcaps made with an expanded polyethylene wadding for the lining. Screwcaps are also known as ROTEs (roll-on tamper evident) or by the brand name (Stelvin is a popular brand). Widely used in Australia and New Zealand and for wines for short-term cellaring. Becoming increasingly sophisticated in terms of allowing differing levels of permeability so mimicking the properties of natural cork offering winemakers more choice depending of the style of wine being made. There is still a lack of sound data regarding the performance of screwcaps for longer-term cellaring.
This is an agglomerate cork with a disk of good-quality natural cork adhered to both ends. A reasonably priced, reliable alternative to natural cork.
This is the metal pilfer-proof cap usually used to seal beer bottles but also used in the production of Champagne and sparkling wine when wines are stored under crown cap before the dosage is added. A few producers use crown caps to seal wine bottles. Open with a standard bottle opener.
Jamie Goode has written an excellent book on the subject of closures for those wishing to find out more (Wine Bottle Closures, Flavour Press).
Alcohol by volume%
Units per standard bottle
The Society includes the alcohol by volume percentage figure for each wine available online, in Lists and offers.
It is generally accepted that alcohol levels in wine have been increasing in the last 20 years. There are many reasons why, but the single most important factor is the vast improvement in vineyard management techniques which have resulted in healthier, riper fruit being harvested. Alcohol is a by-product of the fermentation of sugars in the grapes and the best-quality wines are made from grapes that have reached physiological ripeness (colour, flavour and tannin), and this generally happens after sugar ripeness.
There are several techniques that can be used to reduce alcohol levels but currently most are intrusive and strip flavour as well as alcohol and we don't buy wines made in this way. In actual fact, more than half of our still table wines have an abv of 13% or less. Members looking to choose wines with lower levels of alcohol can now search our range by level of alcohol.
Excellent-quality wine is at the heart of everything we do at The Wine Society and balance is the single most important feature of quality. The interaction of a wine's main components of sugar, acidity, tannin, alcohol and flavour matter more than the actual level of alcohol. A well-made wine of 14.5%, for example, will taste more balanced than an inferior-quality wine with 10% alcohol. Furthermore, alcohol levels are only a guide to a wine's fullness: a 12.5% cabernet sauvignon may feel heavier and more full-bodied in the mouth than, say, a gamay of 13.5%. Members should refer to the wine's tasting note for a description of the style and fullness of the wine.
The Society is committed to promoting the responsible enjoyment of wines and spirits by providing relevant information to our members that allows them to make their own informed choices. An additional figure is beginning to be used on labels: the number of (UK) units of alcohol contained in that bottle. This is simply the alcohol by volume percentage multiplied by the content. Thus a 13% wine in a standard 75cl bottle will have 9.7 units of alcohol. All new labels of Society and Exhibition wines will include this information. drinkaware.co.uk
The Society's buyers provide recommended drink dates for all of our wines to help members decide the right time to pop the cork. As a general rule, most everyday white wines are best enjoyed within a year of purchase, and most everyday reds within two years. Certain fine wines, however, those with the right structure and balance, have the ability to evolve over time and gain complexity and finer nuances of flavour.
If the product page says:
...then our advice would be:
Should be drunk over the coming months, certainly within the year.
Ready to drink now but will keep until the year shown.
We recommend keeping longer before opening. For example, a wine will be ready to drink in 2020 but still young and will keep until 2042. It's a matter of personal taste when such wines should be drunk. Many members prefer to try the wines over many years from the opening drink date to the last to watch the wine evolve.
Within one year of purchase
A non-vintage wine that should be drunk within 12 months.
Within two years of purchase
A non-vintage wine that is ready now but will keep for two years.
Savouring the wonderfully complex and intense bouquet and flavour of a wine drank at its peak is undoubtedly one of life's greatest pleasures. As with people, the ageing process will vary from wine to wine. Over the years the wine's primary aromas of fresh fruit will develop more complicated and persistent secondary and tertiary aromas. The fruity flavours of, for example, a premier cru white Burgundy will, over time, evolve buttery, toasty and yeast aromas, or fine reds may develop coffee, cedar, tobacco, vegetal, or even 'animal' flavours as they age.
There is much pleasure to be had by experimenting with bottles at different stages of maturity; finding out how a wine evolves with age and, perhaps more importantly, establishing your own preference in terms of taste for mature wine are all part of the interest and excitement of cellaring wine.
The drinking window we provide is a guide to when the wines will be at their best. Many will favour the wines in the youthful early stages of their development; others will enjoy the wines at their most mature.
Decanting is a useful way of softening the tannins, rounding out the flavours and releasing the potential of a young wine. To find out more please visit our Serving Wine guide.
The Society's purpose-built, temperature-controlled Members' Reserves offers members access to optimum storage conditions for their wines.
For more help and advice about how best to enjoy your wines contact us via our enquiry form.
Oak plays a very important role in the production of wine throughout the world. However, the level of oak detectible in a wine can vary depending on a number of factors – for example, the age and size of the barrel and the type of oak used, as well as the length of time the wine is aged in wood. Oak also influences the structure and tannins of the final wine. For wines on our website, we use the following classifications:
This suggests that a wine has either seen no oak at all, or may have been produced using very large, old oak barrels, resulting in a wine that has no taste of oak. Expect these wines to be crisp, fruit-forward and aromatic.
Some oak has been used in the production, yet it has not been a defining factor in the style of the wine. In this instance, the oak may have played more of a part in the structure of the wine but there will still be discreet flavours associated with the use of new oak.
Wines that are defined by and known for their use of new oak. This must not be confused with a wine which is 'overly oaky' as that would purely be down to bad winemaking! We buy only wines that, we believe, use oak in a balanced and appealing way, enhancing flavour and complexity, and/or imparting structure.
How detectable oak is depends a good deal on the size of the barrel and how new it is. New oak provides a much more evident flavour and aroma and must be used carefully. The size of the barrel is important, as the smaller the barrel, the more surface area of the wine is in contact with the wood and the more flavour will be drawn out. Often, very large old oak barrels are used, which impart little or no oak flavour to the wine at all. They will still bring an extra dynamic to the final taste of a wine though, when compared to stainless steel or concrete vessels, as oak is porous and therefore lets a small amount of air into the barrel. This controlled oxidation has a positive effect on wines, softening the tannins and developing secondary flavours, all helping to add a complexity which comes with age.
There are many ways that people rate wines, whether it is on the 100 or 20 point scales, 5 stars, 3 glasses or simply thumbs up or down. The pleasure of a bottle of wine is hard to express in figures, but it does help give the memory of that wine a context, and a way of sharing your opinion with others.
In response to members' requests we have added a star rating option to the site so you can mark your favourites, or maybe those occasional less-than-welcome experiences, and make your next order easier.
You can use the 5-star rating tool to record your experiences however you wish, but if you are looking for some guidance we believe that a focus on the 'value' of the wine takes into account the quality but also the pleasure it provided, and whether it is something you would recommend to friends.