South America is a huge region with a long history of viticulture and wine making that has experienced ups and downs since the 1500’s when it started, but with influence from Europe and the US, quality wine production has since taken off in the region.
Separated by the Andean mountains, Chile and Argentina currently dominate the industry with the most advanced and largest world market penetration. This is because majority of the vineyards producing highest quality grapes are located at the foothills of the Andes, only distinguished by differing climates.
As such, most wine lovers are familiar with the tastes of the characteristic grapes that produce the Chilean Carménère or Argentinean Malbec but there are several other stellar wines from this region that may not be as popular are worth trying. Here are 4 we recommend:
Colomé Torrontés (Argentina)
Torrontés are nearly exclusively grown along the naked, dusty landscape of Argentina’s North-West border. Torrontés is native to this desert region that possesses the highest altitude vines in the world, giving it a longer growing season. Here is a video of the wine region.
The aromatic white wine is produced from a fresh and fruity grape, that gives a mildly sweet sensation and is 100% Argentinean, though experts agree it tastes a crossing between Criolla Chica and Muscat of Alexandria.
Don David Reserve Tannat (Argentina)
Tannat is a deep red-wine grape which is native to Basque County, in Southwest France along the Spanish border. The grape made is way to South America and has become increasingly popular in the region’s wine producing countries, particular Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina. The tannat vineyards are also at high altitude in the Calchaqui Valley, Argentina and the reserve label we recommend, Don David, is owned by Michel Torino and named after its founder.
Bodega Garzon Albariño (Uruguay)
Not to be left out from the list, although Uruguay is mostly famous for its stellar Tannats, the less popular Uruguayan Albariño grape is one of the very few white wine grapes to make its mark in South America, other than the Torrontés. A confirmed crowd-pleaser, the Albariño is a classic crisp white, with a similar aroma to Viognier and a fresh, peachy finish.
Gillmore Vigno Carignan (Chile)
Old vine Carignan is Chile’s wine industry’s often neglected jewel. The red wine grape, native to the Spanish/French was first planted in Chile’s Maule Valley in the 1940s. Though the grape never really took off as much as Chile’s signature Carménère its potential was recently tapped into and the organization, Vignadores de Carignan (VIGNO) was formed in 2011 to advocate and market these Chilean wines. The Chilean Carignan is as warm and rich as the Carménère and is making its way to wine shelves everywhere.