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By Simone Diament
2003 LOS CARDOS MALBEC ($4.99 at Costco's)
This one was a great surprise! I would never have bought it but took a chance because it had been recommended by the employee at the cash register!!! I figured I couldn't go wrong at this price. It's a feisty award-winning 100 % Malbec from Luján de Cuyo in Mendoza, with good garnet color and complex aromas of red fruit, light coffee and chocolate. Medium-bodied with a smooth mouthfeel, it develops in the mouth with hints of eucalyptus, black pepper and licorice. This is truly an exceptional price/quality value.
2002 TRUMPETER MALBEC/SYRAH ($8.99 any liquor and wine store)
With an intense violet red and dark garnet hue, this combination of 50% Syrah and 50% Malbec from Familia Rutini in Tupungato, Mendoza produces an intense nose of blackcurrants, plums and chocolate. This is another hit by Catena who purchased the Rutini winery. Smooth and round on the palate, it is firm and well-balanced and could compare to a big wine when the red fruit reappears with roasted coffee, vanilla and hints of wood. The finish is great thanks to the good tannins and the balanced acidity.
2002 TWO BROTHERS BIG TATTOO RED ($7.99)
This blend: 50%Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Syrah and 10% Merlot from vertically-trellised vines in the Central Valley of Colchagua, Chile, packs aromas of ripe berry and plum and comes together in the mouth with rich flavors of blackberry, black cherries and cocoa. It is the work of Alex Bartholomaus, a wine importer and his brother Eric, a tattoo artist, to honor their mother and benefit the breast cancer research foundation at Arlington, Virginia.
More wines from hot wine-producing countries and regions $10 and under.