Malbec might not be quite as trendy as it was 10 or 15 years ago, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying this find from Aldi, nestled among the budget-friendly protein bars and mysteriously inexpensive beauty products (hello, eye cream!). I’ve tried a lot of wine from Aldi, and their strength seems to be wines from Washington State and South America, so I grabbed a selection of those the last time I visited the grocer. Of all the bottles I sampled, there was one clear winner. You guessed it: A malbec!
Malbec comes from the same area of southwest France that birthed cabernet franc, sauvignon blanc, and cabernet sauvignon, so there is a bit of family resemblance with these grapes. But while cabernet sauvignon has both lots of acidity and lots of tannin (which is why it ages so well) and cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc are big on peppery and grassy notes, malbec is much softer and friendlier, lacking the intense tannin, acidity, and aromatics of its cousins. What it does have is a combination of what we call red fruits, like raspberry and tart cherry, and black fruits, like blueberry and plum. It also is much more able to get nice and ripe — especially in warm climates like the wine growing regions of Argentina.
Pico Viejo from Argentina’s Uco Valley has a nice hint of tobacco on the nose, and lots of raspberry and ripe plum flavors. There’s a bit of oak influence — bringing some vanilla, cocoa, and toasty notes — but it’s not overwhelming. When I look for everyday wines, I look for versatility most of all. I want something that will go with burgers as well as roast chicken, and malbec does a pretty great job of that — especially if you’re someone who tends toward fuller-bodied reds. This one is budget-friendly, but still feels rich and satisfying. That’s the trifecta we all deserve this winter. So that’s that. If you’re in Aldi and want a bottle of red, this is the one to get.
Find it in stores: Pico Viejo Reserva Malbec 2020, $9.99 for 750 milliliters