To be honest, I don’t taste a lot of $10 wines that get me excited, and so I had only modest expectations on opening a shipment of new releases the other night from Argentina. But Trapiche, the big Mendoza winery, has done something right with the inauguration of a new brand called Zaphy. The wines, all from the 2010 vintage, are made from organically grown grapes and include a torrontes, a malbec and a cabernet sauvignon, each with a suggested $9.99 retail price, which means it’s likely that you’ll find them for a bit less.
The torrontes is impressive and should be a hit among those looking for lighter but distinctive wines for summer drinking. Citrusy, with lemon and lime, a touch of vanilla and subtle flower and herb tastes, it’s especially noteworthy for the minerality on the surprisingly long finish. For Asian foods, especially sushi, salads and as a zesty aperitif. Alcohol is 13.5 percent.
The malbec, after a little aeration, shows lovely red berry fruit notes set against a subtle frame of oak with good complexity and tannic structure. Young and fruity, it’s style reminds me of Beaujolais. It should compete easily with comparably priced malbecs like the popular Altos Los Hormigos. Alcohol is 13.5 percent.
The cabernet, while a bit more generic, offers blackberry and spice aromas, a decent tannic structure and is preferable to many California cabs at this level. I am an advocate of organic and biodynamic methods, and these wines show how the power of a big winery can be harnessed to produce impressive results at a very modest price. And in case you were wondering about the word “zaphy,” it’s an indigenous word for “root,” “beginning,” or “origin.” Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons, New York. Wines received as press samples.