Today's Sponsor:
Cellar management software and community tasting notes.

In This Issue
 Back on the Malbec bike Not giving up after Wednesday's experience, we go back to Bodegas Norton for a more "honest" Malbec in a lower budget range.
 Bodegas Norton 2003 Mendoza Malbec ($8.49) Nothing fancy here, but a good balance of fruit and acid with a hint of minerality make this Argentine item a darn fine value.
 CellarTracker! Cellar management software and community tasting notes.
Administrivia Change E-mail address, frequency, format or unsubscribe.

 Learn about our RSS Feed

Back on the Malbec bike

I won't say the Norton Reserve Malbec that inspired Wednesday's rant left a bad taste in my mouth, exactly, but its oaky, fruit-forward flavor profile put my attitude in need of adjustment, as I discussed in some detail at the time.

So, following the principle of jumping back on the bike after a spill, I returned to Bodegas Norton for another try with a lower-end item - the regular, non-reserve Malbec bottling that usually sells for well under $10 - and I'm feeling much better now, thank you.

Norton, after all, is a historic and respected Argentine producer with a 110-year track record, and I've enjoyed its wines in the past. On the other hand, a review of my tasting notes suggests that they've drifted toward a modern, "international" style in recent years (possibly since an ownership change in 1989), and the '02 Reserve Malbec certainly offered a vivid example of that.

But sometimes simplicity is a virtue, as Norton's simpler, less expensive regular Malbec happily demonstrates. Perhaps because there's no point in using expensive new oak barrels on a low-end wine that's not likely to get much attention from the critics anyway, Norton seems to have let this Malbec be Malbec, expressing the fruit and even a hint of earthy minerality without a lot of interference by the wine maker's hand.

It's a good value in the $8 range, and as I like in modest Malbecs, its easy-drinking combination of fresh fruit and crisp acidity makes it a natural partner with pizza.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on today's topic (or any other wine-related subject), you'll find a round-table online discussion in our interactive Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, where you're always welcome to join in the conversations about wine.

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.

Here's a simply formatted copy of today's Wine Advisor, designed to be printed out for your scrapbook or file or downloaded to your PDA or other wireless device.

Norton Malbec Bodegas Norton 2003 Mendoza Malbec ($8.49)

Very dark reddish-purple, black at the center. Black-fruit aromas, plums and black cherries, lead into a ripe and juicy fruit flavor, open and fresh, shaped by mouth-watering acidity and a hint of the clay-like minerality that Argentine Malbec tends to show if it's not manipulated out. At half the price of Norton's Reserve bottling, it's a more appealing wine and a much better value. U.S. importer: TGIC Importers Inc., Woodland Hills, Calif. (Aug. 3, 2005)

FOOD MATCH: Malbec is becoming even more of a cliche than Chianti with pizza for me, and it was fine with a straightforward model topped with sausage, mushrooms, peppers and onions.

VALUE: A top player in the $6 to $8 range. Be wary of pricing over $10, though, a rapacious markup.

WHEN TO DRINK: Best enjoyed young and fresh, but another year or two on the wine rack won't kill it.

"Malbec" = "Mahl-bek"

The Bodegas Norton Website is published in both Spanish and English. Click the language of your preference from the home page,
Graphics and Flash-heavy, it's best viewed with a high-speed connection.

To find vendors and compare prices of Norton 2003 Malbec on, click:

CellarTracker: cellar management and tasting notes
Cellar management software and community tasting notes

Whether you have 20 bottles or 2,000, a good cellar management system will allow you to better stay in touch with what you have and what you like and what you should be collecting. The innovative CellarTracker system doesn't just organize your cellar; it links you to a vibrant international community of wine lovers. It's fast and easy to use, and you can try it out for free!

With thousands of users, a database of 100,000 wines and more than a million bottles being tracked, it is easy to create your own virtual cellar. Once registered, you can search their virtual wine cellar by producer, vintage, varietal and maturity, as well as log personal tasting notes, price, valuation data and more. You can even barcode your bottles and print a professional looking, restaurant-style wine list. CellarTracker! is accessible from any Web browser as well as a PDA or web-enabled cell phone. You can record as little or as much information as you care to track.

For more information or for a free trial (no install required), please visit

 30 Second Wine Advisor, daily or weekly (free)
 Wine Advisor FoodLetter, Thursdays (free)
 Wine Advisor Premium Edition, alternate Tuesdays ($24/year)

For all past editions, click here


For information, E-mail


To subscribe or unsubscribe from The 30 Second Wine Advisor, change your E-mail address, or for any other administrative matters, please use the individualized hotlink found at the end of your E-mail edition. If this is not practical, contact me by E-mail at, including the exact E-mail address that you used when you subscribed, so I can find your record.

We do not use our E-mail list for any other purpose and will never give or sell your name or E-mail address to anyone. I welcome feedback, suggestions, and ideas for future columns. To contact me, please send E-mail to

All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

Friday, Aug. 5, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

Subscribe to the 30 Second Wine Advisor

Wine Advisor archives