Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Wines from the Deep, Deep South

The weather has finally turned the corner and fall is here. Cooler temperatures mean my wine rack needs more red—lots more red. Not that I won’t still be enjoying white wines and rosé wines, but this is prime-time red wine season.

This means I’ll be scouring the shelves of local wine merchants looking for good deals on some interesting and tasty red wines. And one part of the world that will be getting lots of my attention will be the lower half of South America.

Some of my favorite go-to red wines come from Chile and Argentina. Both of these countries have a booming wine industry and are churning out everything from big-bottle value wines to some of the most interesting, sought-after wines in the world.

Of course, my selections fall somewhere in the middle.

A few of my favorites over the years have been Veramonte, Louis Felipe Edwards and Trapiche. The first two are Chilean and the last is Argentine.

Veramonte has a really solid line up of quality wines: cabernet sauvignon, merlot, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. The cabernet and the sauvignon blanc are my favorites, but that’s just my preference of varietals. Everything I have tasted from them has been pretty impressive. They also make a Bordeaux-style blend, called Primus, which is excellent.

Louis Felipe Edwards produces a full spectrum of wines, many of which I have not tasted. But, for the last five or six years, their estate-bottled cabernet sauvignon has been an outrageous value at around $7. I have an eye out for some of their other wines.

Trapiche is another perennial favorite. Their malbec has a permanent place in my everyday wine selection. Argentina has had tremendous success with malbec, which is one of the five grapes used in red Bordeaux. In Argentina, it shines all by itself.

Malbec, for anyone who is unacquainted, makes a wonderful detour for anyone who has been drinking merlot or shiraz/syrah. It produces wine that is full-bodied, but smooth and supple with rich flavors of black fruit. Yummy stuff.

These two countries have a number of things going for them: low cost of land, low cost of labor and supplies, plenty of old vines, and good-old climate and topography.

All this equals great bargains to had for wine drinkers. All the wines I mentioned (with the exception of Primus) are well under $10 a bottle, and many of these wineries produce wines in the $10 to $15 range that are truly outstanding.

Stay tuned for more about great wines from Chile and Argentina. As I drink them, you'll hear about them.

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