One of our inconsistently favorite wines is Wattle Creek's Malbec. We say "inconsistently" because it is very, very good, but every fourth bottle or so is a dud. It's not corked, spoiled, or bad in any discernable way. It just doesn't taste quite as good as usual. Weird.
We affectionately refer to Wattle Creek's Malbec as the "crack deal" because they only sell it to wine club members, but they'll let you taste it in their wine room in San Francisco's Ghirardelli Square. That's how we got hooked and joined the club. We tried it, loved it, and then talked ourselves into joining the wine club so we could buy some of that Malbec. Only a wine lover could work that sort of logic to agree to regular shipments of additional wine just to buy a few prized bottles.
Last night, we brought a bottle of 2006 Wattle Creek Malbec to Bistro West in Carlsbad, CA. It had hints of plum and earth on the nose, rich plum with a little bright fruit on the front palate, and a mixture of earth and tannins on the finish. Unfortunately, this bottle was one of the occasional ones that didn't stand out. It was a little flabby and not as smooth and luscious as this wine can be at its best.
If this were our one and only try, we'd say "Eh" and move on to something else. But, we know that this wine has great potential and we have additional bottles in our collection that are sure to be outstanding. Given how much wine we drink, this sort of thing is bound to happen from time to time (see: "Every bottle can't be a winner").
One last thought -- we're pretty sure, though not certain, the issue lies on the winery side and not in our own storage. Why? Because we've experienced the same problem in Wattle Creek's own tasting room. On our last visit, we tasted two wines that weren't quite as good as we remembered, but the quality of the wine increased considerably when our host opened fresh bottles.