smoking loon malbecPurple highlights in the glass give away the varietal. There is blackberry and a stealthy invasion of funky earth on the nose, just enough to remind you this is an agricultural product. Some brambly thyme notes and cranberry light up the the mid-palate. A hint of sweetness, but plenty of spice and character to keep sappy impressions to a minimum.  Medium plus body with good, sharp acidity but it has the fruit to keep it balanced. The tannins are reticent but when they appear the finish become just a little coarse and rustic–in a good way.

I really like this wine at this price. Lots of dimension and balanced flavor. The literature from the producer claims 10 months in French and American Oak, 80% new. That is unusual for a wine in this price range.

Smoking Loon has fallen off my radar in recent years; this wine suggests I need to become reacquainted. This is one of Don Sebastiani and Sons’ labels—a large producer of supermarket wines. When you find a good one, it makes plowing through the plonk worthwhile.

To accompany this wine, you’ll want some shit-kickin’ music with a touch of class. How about some Bonnie Raitt?

Score: 88

Alc: 13.5%

Price: $9