Wines from Argentina and Chile
Wines – Argentina’s red wines are one of the great commercial stories of the past few years—and for good reason. When it comes to bottles that cost between $9 and $20, Argentina’s reds, notably its signature grape, Malbec, provide lots of depth of flavour and complexity. The Malbecs are lush with a berry-rich pepperiness. On contrast the Syrahs offer dark, brooding fruit and smoke or game notes; and the Cabernet Sauvignons tend to combine powerful cassis flavours with a hint of bell pepper. They are wines that are well versatile with the hearty foods of winter: juicy roasts, rare steaks, braised lamb shanks and hearty stews. Most of Argentina’s well known reds come from one region: Mendoza, a high plateau on the western edge of the country, in the shadow of the Andes. It’s several thousand miles south of Canada, but a short distance away when you travel by corkscrew.
Chile too has become quite a success for the quality driven wines. Chile is best known for providing solid, well priced Cabernets. The best of these Cabernets combine ripe, New World-style fruit with Old World touches of mineral and spice. Carmenere, originally grown in Bordeaux before phylloxera wiped it out in the 1800s, survived in Chile, and is typically marked by plummy fruit, pepper notes with a fleshy, caressing mouthfeel. With its disease-free soils and competitive labor costs, Chile continues to lure outside investors and spur competition.
In the last few years, new vineyard sites are being developed on lower-yielding hillsides as the focus shifts from quantity to quality for this export-minded country. Look for wines from the following regions; Aconcagua and Maipo for Cabernets, Casablanca for Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs, Raphel for Merlots and Carmenere, while Curico, and Maule produces Cabernet, Carmenere and Pinot Noir.
Recently Pipeño, a typical wine of south-central Chile has gathered increased attention in the last few years. This is a wine made from criollo grapes, Muscat of Alexandria and other local indigenous . It owes its name to the “pipes” Chilean oak barrels, which were first used in the eighteenth century. These are wines made from very traditional methods, with deep roots in folk and peasant customs of Chile. For a long time, they were negatively viewed by wine experts and specialists. But in recent years, they have become a favourite among sommeliers because of their unique identity, history and social roots.
The latest craze in the Argentinian wine scene is coming from the Patagonian wine region. The southernmost region of Argentina is also the lowest in elevation and the chilliest: it is close to Antarctica and its has freezing temperatures! This results in a cooler growing region that is perfect for different varietals, such as Pinot Noir. The sub regions of Patagonia include Neuquén and Rio Negro.
Also a wind of change has been occurring on Mendoza, the vineyard in the desert. Producers are showing lots of interest in the Uco Valley to the west, beyond Luján de Cuyo, searching for higher altitudes, wider diurnal temperature ranges and different soils. Gualtallary, Altamira and La Consulta are the among the small sub-zones that will be the stars of the Argentinian wine industry. As well, careful work on row orientation and viticulture is happening bringing in fresh fruit. In the winery, there’s a welcome movement to reduce oak and replace new barrels with old oak and large foudres. Significantly, the new generation is investing in concrete.
Wines of the week:
Finca Flichman Malbec ( Mendoza, Argentina) 2016
SAQ# 10669832 $9.65
The nose on the upper side of fruit. Strawberry and raspberry jam with milk chocolate and aloe vera. In the mouth, fruity, straightforward delivering simple but clean flavours. Great for everyday dishes such as simple meat pastas or braised crockpot meat dishes.
Norton Barrel Select Malbec ( Mendoza, Argentina) 2015
SAQ# 00860429 $14.05
Lots of smoky oak and mocha on the nose, with a touch of cooked black fruit and liquorice. More jammy dark plums and blackberry on the palate, with a espresso bean finale. Thick and generous wine. Have it with rare flank steak on the grill.
Hacienda Araucano Syrah Reserva ( Central Valley, Chile) 2016
SAQ# 11975073 $10.10
On the nose, aromas that brings to mind violet, liquorice, white pepper and black cherry in compote. On the mouth, full body and dry with powerful tannins and a good acidity. Flavours are consistent with the nose with a peppery signature and a warmness in the palate that is prolonged in the finale. Excellent choice to have with braised veal cheeks and mushrooms.
De Gras Cabernet-Sauvignon Syrah ( Colchagua Valley, Chile) 2016
SAQ# 12698346 $10.70
Rich and intense, with blackberry and plum fruit. Attractive balance of fleshy fruit and oak on the palate with notes of mint, rounded velvety tannins that soften its firm structure and dry finish. Pair it with Piri-Piri chicken and roasted potatoes.
Perez Cruz Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva (Valle del Maipo, Chile) 2014
SAQ # 12798865 $17.85
Juicy purple black plums and blueberry on the nose and palate. Full bodied, silky and mouth-watering. Some dark pepper and more purple-blue fruit notes on the finish. This wine is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with a small proportion of Syrah and Carmenere grapes. Some vanilla smoke and dark fruit on the finish. Good choice with braised lamb shanks.
By Marco Giovanetti – mtltimes.ca