01 December 2010

2009 Argento Malbec

I fell in love early and hard with Argentine Malbec because of the generally great quality price ratio. QPR is going to vary from person to person, but in my experience a $10 Pinot Noir from anywhere is going to be a waste of your money while a $10 Malbec is going to be a decent middle-of-the-week, red meat wine. On the other hand, there are people who would never touch a pink wine under any circumstances, while there are those who happily shell out $100 for a bottle of Chateau d'Esclans Garrus. One site that focuses heavily on the importance of QPR is Dr. Debs' Good Wine Under $20.

Now back to the topic at hand...

2009 Argento Malbec
Mendoza, Argentina
$13, 13.9% abv.

Plum and prune, touch of spice, dark fruit flavor, medium tannins, slightly tart finish. As with many wines in this weight class, it smooths out with some breathing, though there's no need for hours of decanting. I found it to be a great match with a grilled lamb shoulder chop and a wedge of blue goat cheese. The name Argento is Italian for "silver", from the Latin argentum. The country Argentina was named after a combination of real and rumored silver deposits spoken about by early explorers.

This wine features a QR Code on a Cellar Key tag around the neck. Unlike scanning a one-dimensional UPC barcode (which isn't always useful without access to a centralized database), two-dimensional barcodes can contain a lot of custom information. It could carry a short message, or a web link, or an e-mail address. All sorts of things. Scan it with your smartphone, and you've got more information about the wine.

If you scan this 2D barcode, it reads

That's a weirdly long shortcut to this page: http://www.thecellarkey.com/argento/malbec/

For those of you who regularly use these, check out my special message in the code at right.

This is the first time I've seen one of these on a wine bottle, but you can see these little patchwork quilts popping up all over the place these days. Unlike previous attempts like the CueCat, this doesn't require any proprietary equipment or software, so anyone can create a 2D barcode and more and more phones are able to read them. From a design standpoint I hope these stay off the fronts of labels, but they could be amazing for the back of the label. A quick scan, and you can scroll through brix and harvest dates and oak types and specific grape/vineyard percentages, tons of detailed information that's not useful to 95% of the wine buying population.

Note: This wine was received as a sample.


Argento Wine said...

Thanks for the enthusiastic write-up. Love the idea of pairing Argento Malbec with grilled lamb and blue cheese, and great to see you're as excited as we are about the Cellar Key 2D barcode program. Enjoy!

Joe said...

I don't have a smart phone :(

But I do like these codes. Great way to squeeze a bunch of info onto a small space (virtually squeeze, that is).

Imagine if movies did this on the back cover of the blu-ray box, and you could watch a preview, special features, etc. from your phone...

...even though physical movie discs are probably obsolete.

Benito said...


I don't have a smartphone either, don't feel bad. :)

The opportunities with these are endless, particularly when paired with translation software. For instance, this winery probably prints labels in Spanish for the domestic sale and English for international. But say that I'm Greek. I scan the code, it pulls up the website. Now, there's no need for them to have a special Greek version of their website either, but my browser provides a translation for me. Presto, I know something about the wine.