Bodegas Famiglia Valentin Bianchi “Elsa” Malbec 2004
Proof that there are still good values to be had in Argentina. In fact, at a price between eight and eleven bucks (depending on the retailer), this is a super value.
Valentin Famiglia Bianchi has been making a range of consistent, quality wines from their vineyards in San Rafael for about 70 years — in my opinion, some of the best-for-your-buck Malbec, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon coming out of Argentina, year in and year out. Their style is clean, full of ripe fruit, round, and warm, with luscious, silky texture. Most of their wines go through some kind of barrel aging to add a nice vanilla spice component — but not so much to overpower the fruit, which is always the focus in their winemaking. Though they have some outstanding high-end bottlings, they also have a range of “entry level” wines labeled as “Elsa” — which is the Malbec we’re reviewing today. If there’s a negative to Valentin Bianchi’s wines, it’s finding them in the US — though they are supposed to be distributed throughout most of the 50 states, they’re about as easy to find as a needle in a haystack. However, they’re worth the effort of seeking out.
The Tasting Notes
Rich, vibrant, surprisingly complex aromas: ripe, fresh raspberry, plum, blackberry, vanilla spice, boysenberry, earth, hint of tar. Smooth as glass on the palate, showing excellent jammy fruit upfront, but not so much that it is overwhelming (the way an Aussie Shiraz might). Rather, the flavors pleasantly and slowly mellow into a well balanced finish, where mild to medium tannins and sufficient acidity appear and hold things together. The taste of the wine is a mirror of the nose: lots of ripe red and black fruits with spicy notes and hints of earth. Match this with a wide variety of foods, from blackened chicken to pork / veal chop to hamburgers to, of course, skirt steak grilled Argentine style.
Life would be truly wonderful if all bottles under nine bucks packed this much punch. Get a case and count on it as your daily drinker.
a-8 t-8 b-9 fc-10 v-10 ~ 95 Points