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Good, Better, Best Rungs on the Wine Ladder

Three wines, same brand, same grape but positioned at different price points. Are those steps up the ladder justified?

Today’s post puts one producer and one grape variety (malbec) under the microscope and compares examples occupying different price points.

The producer, Trivento, structures those examples into a “good, better, best” hierarchy.

This is the format widely used in the grocery sector to distinguish between economy, standard and premium levels.

Several factors influence where a wine sits in that hierarchy.

These include where the grapes were grown, the quality of the fruit itself, its aging potential and, sometimes, the production methods.

Entry level versions are often produced in bigger, commercially oriented batches using grapes from various regions to contain costs and keep the wine affordable.

Wines in the middle category will be a step up and, possibly, use more systematic grape selection processes and (to accentuate local characteristics) restrict the area from which the fruit is sourced.

Premium level wines usually secure the best quality grapes available and the most assiduous wine production processes to optimise the complexity and depth of the flavours in the finished wine.

Predictably, the selling prices for premium wines will reflect the time consuming and tightly controlled processes they involve.

Limited production volumes and the distinctiveness of the resulting wine are other factors driving pricing.

Also, today, we consider how to pronounce one particular champagne name.  

In the usual way, hyperlinks and pictures are used where possible to help you locate the bottle in question.

Starting with that entry point malbec.

2021 Trivento Reserve Malbec (around £8 – available from Waitrose and Tesco, and 13.5% abv):

Winner of a number of awards, this is uncomplicated malbec which ticks all the right boxes.

This can be sourced from different parts of the Mendoza region to secure year-on-year consistency (an important element in this part of the market).  

Medium bodied with only gentle tannin, it delivers straight forward cherry and blackcurrant flavours boosted by firm acidity and supported by mint and ginger components.

Moving to the middle range

2021 Trivento Malbec Private Reserve (around £10 – available from Tesco and Sainsburys, and also 13.5%).

For this slightly richer wine the sourcing area is restricted to Argentina’s Uco Valley.

There, the altitude, low humidity, big temperature variations and water availability from Andean snow melt encourages more concentrated and complex wines.

Darker and denser than the previous wine, this example has smooth damson and blackberry flavours with savoury edges, good acidity, and a hint of nutmeg but, again, relatively little tannin.

Finally to the premium example.

2019 Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec (Around £15 – available from Tesco and Sainsburys, and 14%):

Lujan de Cuyo – where this wine originates – is also high ground (its main vineyards start 900m above sea level) with long ripening periods yet helpful sun exposure too.

It is famed for the malbec produced there which is often considered especially intense, smooth and distinctive.

Probably as a result, this has more intensity and greater depth than either of its partners.

There is also a little more alcohol and the wine is two years older.

Once poured, it centres itself around complex black cherry and elderberry flavours coupled with cedar and aniseed touches.

Again, there is good acidity but limited tannin, although the flavours are more rounded, take longer to evolve but linger seemingly for an eternity.

Conclusions.

For sound everyday drinking that features a nicely configured fruit foundation, fairly typical secondary elements and a gentle price then Trivento Reserve Malbec is the right choice.

With the middle option (Trivento Malbec Private Reserve), the flavours are denser and the fruit analogies deepen from cherry into damson and bramble.

That – and the ancillary components that exhibit more savoury influences – make it well worth an extra pound or so and, potentially, a Friday Night Treat wine.

A significant step up the ladder comes with Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec where flavours become more concentrated and even deeper.

In addition, the results of aging emerge more clearly – and will keep on giving for several years yet – to provide a true “Sunday Best” candidate.

Who put the “T” in Champagne?

Among the eclectic discussions on a radio programme the other morning, the correct pronunciation of the name of a well-known champagne came up.

It centred on whether or not the “t” in Moët should be silent as in pinot or escargot – since you frequently hear it pronounced that way.

Some callers suggested that “moh-way” is correct as it is quite normal for the “t” to be silent at the end of a French word.

While that reasoning is sound, there is another factor at work here – and one that requires “Moët” to be pronounced “Mo-ETT”.

The clue is in the third letter and the umlaut above it.

Claude Moët (1683-1760) who founded the champagne house was in fact of Dutch origin and, thus, his name should be pronounced with a hard “t”.

This (Australian) website has a bit more to say on the subject.

Tune in again on Monday when value at budget price points is, once more, the theme of my latest Top Tips post.

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14 Responses

  1. Very educative post today,Brian.
    Just to point out that “Good,better,best” is also a favourite staple section of the BBC TV series- Antiques Roadshow!
    Wine is much more interesting though.

  2. Hi Brian

    The Golden Reserve is especially worth looking out for when it’s part of Tesco’s 25% off promotions. I’ve managed to buy this when concurrently reduced so have got it down to £9 a bottle. Definitely worth buying a few and laying them down – they are even better two or three years later.

  3. Thanks Brian, I realise I’ve been pronouncing Moët wrong all this time. Including an occasional ‘commonly mispronounced wine names’ piece would probably be a help to many of us!

  4. Hi Brian, very useful description of Malbec wines at different price levels.

    More recent MidWeekers may not have read your similar article, still very relevant, focussing on Cono Sur Pinot Noir wines at different price points. (This was published on 16th April 2020 – enter Cono Sur in Brian’s search field and it will bring it up).

    Paul’s mention of Antique Road Show is perceptive – we have debates in our households, leading to parallel ranking of the 3 antiques: Good, Better, Best – on likely value, and then on which we actually like best. For tiers of wine the same could well apply!

  5. Both about good aging perhaps. However, with viewing figures of 4.3m, Antiques Roadshow cannot be a bad example to follow.

  6. Morning Carl. Exactly the right strategy, so keep an eye open for any pointers Eddie can give us on the next multibuy Tesco promotion. As you say, there is plenty of life ahead of that wine – and it stays lively for some time after opening too.

  7. You are not alone Rebecca – just more honest than many, I guess! I am not sure I am the best person for mispronounced foreign names – as probably the world’s worst linguist. The rich Sussex “burr” of my schooldays made me a nightmare for every language teacher.

  8. Well remembered Richard. I cannot guarantee though that everything I said then applies to the latest vintages.
    Actually, it is not that easy to find examples with a straight forward hierarchy of three wines that easily fit the good/better/best structure. Subtle (or not so subtle) differences as they ascend the price ladder often complicate direct comparisons.

  9. The Trivento Malbec range is sold at Morrisons, although I haven’t noticed the Golden reserve there, so I shall watch out for it. Most importantly they are often discounted from the prices that you quote and, when so, they are well worth the price. As a resident of Yorkshire I do like a bargain

    The “good” and “better” variants are sound drinking Malbecs with the difference between the two being noticeable. I look forward to the chance of sampling the “best”.

    A little shout out to a Lidl white wine that I have recently tried: Blume Rueda Verdejo Seleccion, selling at £5.49 and very tasty, especially at the price.

    Great informative article, as always.

  10. Great read as ever Brian. Currently a good price at Asda for the Trivento Reserve Malbec … usually £8 but down to £6.50. The Private Reserve at Tesco is £8.50 with a Clubcard but it finishes on April 24th. Likewise at Tesco until the 24th the Golden Reserve is £15 down to £12 with a Clubcard.
    https://www.tesco.com/groceries/en-GB/products/293517995

    Can only think there will be a 25% deal at both Asda and Tesco before the Bank Holiday weekends but these bottles not necessarily catching a double dip. I’ve had all these bottles before and enjoyed them all, especially when considering their deal price point when I bought them. But as Brian regularly reminds us, we need to consider the variation in vintages.

  11. Hi Alf …. We seem to be on the same page about those two malbecs – judging both to be reliable but with the more expensive option offering an important extra edge.
    Good to know too about other retailers and nothing wrong with riding the offers – it is probably the best way to keep within budget at a difficult time.
    Not tried that Lidl white myself (verdejo can be marmite grape) but thanks for the tip – other MidWeekers do, I know, highly value recommendations from fellow subscribers.

  12. Thanks Eddie and I am particularly grateful to you for updating the list of potential sources. As you say, vintages are important – especially (but not exclusively) as you go up the price ladder.

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