South America is abound with beauty – the majestic Amazon rainforest, pristine beaches, heart-wrenching love poetry by Pablo Neruda, and some might even say Lionel Messi’s magic handling of a football. To top it off, the region is home to some of the most delectable wines in the world.
Chile is home to immigrants from traditional European winemaking countries such as Spain, Italy and Germany. When families of winemakers stepped off the boat, they found a country that was perfect for making wine.
Chile’s mountain chains that spread throughout the long, thin nation create a vast array of microclimates that provide ideal conditions for a wide variety of grapes. With its long sunny days, Pacific Ocean breezes and soils, exceptional quality can be found for prices that are hard to beat elsewhere.
Carmenere is the epitome of the Chilean variety and is barely grown commercially in other parts. Confused for decades as Merlot, great Carmenere exhibits well-rounded black fruit characteristics with herbal and red pepper aromas. Any lover of red wines should try it.
Argentina, on the other side of the Andes, is known for more than an impressive soccer team and living legend Lionel Messi. The country has exceptional winemaking regions that benefit from cool air rushing down from mountains to the plains below.
Malbec has found a natural home in Argentina and Mendoza is home to some exceptional examples of the variety. Malbec is a full-bodied red that accompanies grilled red meat exceptionally well – great with traditional ‘asado’, Argentinean barbeque events.
Torrontes, a white variety renowned for its association with Argentina, has a uniquely floral and perfumed nose of rose water and lychee on the palate. If you are an off-dry white wine drinker who has enjoyed Riesling or Gewürztraminer
in the past then this is for you.
The Concha y Toro vineyard at Puente Alto produces some of Chile’s best Cabernet Sauvignon, and this wine is no exception. 2009 was a warmer year but water levels were monitored to sustain perfect berry growth for a wine with ripe tannin and concentration. This dense yet elegant wine is a must-have for any lover of Cabernets of the highest order. If you are looking for something that regularly beats top flight Bordeaux in blind tastings, this is your wine.
Carmenere, Chile’s emblematic variety, is somewhere between Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon having both the plump roundness of Merlot and the herbaceous, cedar notes of Cabernet. This wine from Marques de Casa Concha has soft, finely ground tannins, crisp acidity and dark fruits of plum and blackcurrants.
These wines come from the second most northern wine-growing region in Chile. Near the Atacama region, the driest place on earth, the Limari Valley is surprisingly an excellent area for cool climate wines because of its topography. The valley hoovers in cool Pacific Ocean breezes and early morning fogs, making it excellent for Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. This Pinot exhibits the character the variety is known for – strawberries, raspberries and toast from 14 months in French oak. It has a good structure with a long and lingering finish.
The La Chamiza winery is named after the polo stud horse that was raised where the vines now lie. From the foothills of the Andes in Mendoza, this is a 100% Malbec reflecting the winemakers’ belief that wines are made in the vineyard. The Malbec is sure to please you and your drinking companions – it abounds with fruit with an eye-popping deep violet and crimson. A gentle vanilla, tobacco and bread toast aroma from 8 months in French oak give a subtle complexity to this excellent Malbec.