For my money, South America is producing some of the best value wines on the market right now. They are typically big, bold reds - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec - which sometimes feel like my nemesis. But because they seem less impenetrable than certain French wines, I find myself loving the way they make me feel all warm and cozy inside. Hello snow and mittens and roasts and vegetable braises...may I introduce you to this glass of wine?
I realize that might be a bit of a generalization for a group of wines that come from several different countries and include many more grapes than I listed above. To combat my assumptions and broaden the data sample (see I do live with a scientist), we are diving headfirst into South American reds. The immediate task at hand: to see if we could find a few daily drivers among the mass of reasonably priced Chilean and Argentinian wines at the the local liquor store.
A. First up, a Syrah from Mendoza (the Napa of Argentina). I might have guessed that this would end badly. According to the interwebs, Syrah is not a widely planted grape in Argentina (or Chile for that matter). I found the wine to be overly sweet and muddy.
Navarro Correas Collecion Privada
B. The next undertaking - a Cab from the Colchagua Valley in Chile - was a significant improvement. The wine was dark, with alcohol on the nose that seemed to go away after the first glass. Doug called it "a meat and potatoes" wine and that seems right. It is warm and full, but not too overbearing or fruity and with some nice structure. Our particular brand of meat and potatoes for that evening may have added to my satisfaction. We had one of my favorite fall/winter meals - BLAs, or bacon, lettuce, and apple sandwiches. If you haven't tried these yet, I promise they will solve all of your winter woes. They are a huge upgrade from BLTs made with pasty, flavorless, out-of-season tomatoes...and I might go as far to say they are an improvement on the original. (Although I could just be saying that because I live in the Northeast and the tomato season lasts for approximately one month.) Dinner aside, this was my favorite wine of the three, and I'm eager to get a few bottles for that Wednesday evening when I'm hankering for some reliably good wine.
Root: 1 Cabernet Sauvignon
Colchagua Valley, Chile (2008)
C. The third wine we tried was a Tempranillo, also from Mendoza. Tempranillo gained popularity as the main grape in Spanish Riojas and I happen to be a fan. This wine met my expectations - it was earthy and restrained, with some dark fruit (plum maybe?) and a softness on the palate. And, it is made with organic grapes. This bottle was Doug's favorite.
Santa Julia Tempranillo
Mendoza, Argentina (2009)