Valentin Bianchi - 2008 Elsa Chardonnay / 2008 Elsa Malbec / 2008 Elsa Cabernet Sauvignon

It’s good to have some go to things in life. When it comes to wine there are some producers that I look to for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s simply quality. Other times it’s value and availability. Valentin Bianchi from Argentina scores for me on all three counts and then some. They have several tiers of wine, all of which are interesting and fairly priced for what they provide. And their wines are available across the country in a wide variety of retailers. Today I’m going to look at three wines I enjoyed in their lowest priced tier. The Elsa wines are named after the wife of their founder, who is also the Grandmother of the current owners. The vineyards surround the house she lived in. First up is the Valentin Bianchi 2008 Elsa Chardonnay. This selection is produced using estate fruit from San Rafael Mendoza vineyards. In addition to Chardonnay (90%), Semillon (10%) is also blended in. During fermentation in stainless steel, French oak staves were used to add complexity. 2,000 cases of this wine were imported and the suggested retail price is $8.99.

Pineapple, Meyer lemon and white peach aromas burst forth from the evocative nose of this Chardonnay. Mango, guava and lots of golden delicious apple notes are all part of the fresh and appealing palate. Apple pie crust, lemon custard, vanilla and speckles of white pepper make up the medium length finish of this Chardonnay. Good acidity balances things out.

What I like about this Chardonnay is that it puts its best fruit forward. This is a fresh, lively wine meant to enjoy in its youth. While the small amount of oak used added some complexity it doesn’t detract from what is a very fruit driven offering.

The second wine is the Valentin Bianchi 2008 Elsa Malbec. Fruit for this offering was sourced at the same Estate vineyard in Mendoza as the Chardonnay. This selection is 100% Malbec. This wine saw minimal oak aging. 15,000 cases of this wine were imported and the suggested retail price is $8.99.

Plum, blueberry, vanilla and floral notes are all part of the slightly jam influenced nose of this Malbec. The palate also shows some jam fruit characteristics with red and black berry fruit intertwining. Black raspberry, blackberry and strawberry are of particular note. A layer of vanilla underpins these along with touches of orange peel. Kalamata olive, touches of smoke, and white pepper highlight the medium length finish. This Malbec has sufficient acidity.

Giving this wine 30 minutes of air really helps it open up and allows its flavors to pop. I like the consistency this wine has shown from vintage to vintage. This is a great starter Malbec and an affordable one for everyday drinking.

The last wine today is the Valentin Bianchi 2008 Elsa Cabernet Sauvignon. Fruit for this wine was also sourced at the Family’s original home vineyards. This selection is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine had minimal oak aging. 10,000 cases of this 2008 vintage were imported and the suggested retail price is $8.99.

Black fruit such as raspberry, blackberry and blueberry lead the nose of this wine along with hints of vanilla and cedar. Dark, juicy berry fruit tells the story of this wines mid-palate. Black pepper and additional vanilla emerges on the finish. This wine has nice structure and good acidity.

This 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon drinks well off the bat. That said, an hour of air really exposes all of its charms. This is a fruity, fresh Cabernet meant to be drunk in it’s youth. It’ll pair well with a burger and drinks nicely on its own too.

All three of these Elsa wines represent good values. While the suggested retail price is $8.99 you can certainly find them for less if you shop around. Each of these is a solid contender for everyday drinking. They’re also good bets to pick up a case of so you always have something affordable and dependable on hand.