Yesterday I did a look-see at the wine shelves at the Salinas branch of Grocery Outlet. The 2003 Finca Los Primos San Rafael Malbec from Argentina was marked at $3.99. Not a wine I was familiar with, but on closer inspection I saw that the producer was actually Valentin Bianchi, a good winery. Knowing that 2003 was a superlative year in Argentina, it seemed worth a four-buck bet. Besides, I needed a little red to braise some oxtails.
I pulled the cork a few minutes ago, and it's even better than I'd hoped. This wine would be a pretty good value at the MSRP of $9, making it a screaming buy at $3.99. The initial nose is a little skunky and reductive, but cleans up in a couple minutes after some swirling in the glass to show dark berried fruit, smoke and cigar box. This is a medium-bodied wine with good acid balance and ripe suave tannins supporting the fleshy fruit. It has more depth than I'd expect of an entry-level wine. The finish is a bit warm (14.1% alcohol), and it leaves a dried herb and berry aftertaste. With the softness and delicious fruit, it goes down really easy.