The Susana Balbo Crios Malbec 2017 is 100% Malbec sourced from vineyards in the Uco Valley of western Mendoza in the foothills of the Andes, well maybe not exactly foothills since the elevation for the vineyards is 3,700 feet above sea-level. Susana Balbo founded her line of wine in 1999, the Crios label features younger, drink-it-now style of wines, but she produces wines in all price ranges. Susana Balbo was one of the people who popularized Argentinian Malbec in the US, before Argentina Malbec hit the scene, Malbec was a grape that used to be blended in Bordeaux wines a century ago. One of the advantages Argentinean vineyards have is their elevation, most vineyards are above the height where most vine diseases and pests can flourish and the relative closeness to the sun provides plenty of energy for the vines making ideal vintages a common occurrence. This Malbec was aged for 9 months in French oak and the alcohol content is either 13.5% if you believe the back of the bottle or 14% is their webpage is correct.
The color is seriously dark black cherry red. The nose is excellent, ripe fruit, classic barrel aromas, and interesting spice, all nicely dark and brooding. This is a medium bodied wine with excellent balance and rich, extracted fruit flavors. It starts with ripe blackberry, licorice, and Dr. Pepper mixed with black pepper and exotic spices. The mid-palate offers sour cherry, vanilla, mocha, and orange zest. The tannins stay out-of-the-way and the acidity allows the Crios to be a sipping wine or a food wine (pot roasts, chops, or stews, actually use some in the stew). The finish is soft, but does last.
The Susana Balbo Crios Malbec 2017 rocks, I found it for a few cents under 10 bucks and it just kills at that price. I have sort of forgotten about Malbec lately, I put Malbec and Zinfandel in the same classification, meaning that both those red grapes can make awesome value-priced, drink-it-now wines, yeah, you can pay more for them both, but the value priced wines are highly enjoyable in their own right. And I have been on a Zinfandel kick and somehow forgot about how good Malbec can be. Well, Susana Balbo’s Crios is delicious and nuanced and balanced and all those good wine adjectives. I don’t think I will forget about Malbec again.