Monday, January 11, 2016
Frontera...Frontera...Frontera...The Affordable Party Wines by Philip S. Kampe
Fate comes in many directions. Each year,we have our annual New Years Day Party at our home in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. I do the cooking, pour the wines, usually I have a white, rose, red and sparkling open for the 30 odd guests. That way, everyone has a choice regarding wine.
Guests bring wine,usually, as a cordial gift. I generally don't open the wines immediately, or at all. Well, as it turns out, my wife invited several new friends to the party. One came with a 1.5L bottle of Frontera Malbec.
The large 1.5L bottle made me think that it was really a cheap jug wine or a lower level bag in the box type of wine. I put the wine on the table, said thanks and did not open the bottle. Within five minutes, the guest who brought the bottle asked me to open it. Ten minutes later the bottle was nearly empty.
It seems that the group of friends that my wife, Maria, invited, drink the Frontera Malbec weekly, when they get together. Before the wine ran out, knowing no background information, I poured a half glass of the $9 Malbec, only to realize that the medium-bodied wine was legitimately the absolute best nine dollar 1.5L wine I have ever tasted. Unlike Yellow Tail, the Frontera Malbec had a long finish. Fresh, bright fruit on the palate made this wine a real sociable wine, perfect for a party (with no regrets).
I was eager to see what other wines, in this same price catagory, that Concha y Toro made. What I found was a 1.5L 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot blend, from Central Valley Chile, priced at the same $9 per bottle. Could it match up with the Malbec in quality and drink-ability?
The answer was a resounding 'Yes'. In fact, the Cab/Merlot blend had a drop more depth with soft tannins and a long finish, similar to the Malbec. The wine was a bright ruby color. Good structure, with a backbone of black fruits, especially blackcurrents.
With Super Bowl around the corner, it looks like the hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza, now have a a couple of new friends.
Philip S. Kampe
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