Saturday, February 8, 2014

Grab Bag from Argentina and Chile

This week I’m taking a break from a run of California reviews and focusing on South America’s top two: Argentina and Chile. These crisp Sauvignon Blancs and rich reds were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

Chile is home to a long strip of diverse wine regions.
2012 Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) Sauvignon Blanc Los Vascos - Chile, Casablanca Valley
SRP: $10
Aromas of grapefruit, some green melon and a bit of grassy-herbal notes. Tangy acid on the palate, with grapefruit, orange peel, accented by notes of cilantro and mint. A bit simple, but a tasty, crowd-pleasing wine. (85 points)

2012 Viña Peñalolén Sauvignon Blanc - Chile, Casablanca Valley
SRP: $13
A light lemon peel color. Lots of grapefruit and lemon on the nose, along with a strong kick of bell pepper and jalapeno. Medium-bodied with some nice creaminess and medium+ acid. Grapefruit, white peach and lime fruit blends together with white pepper and jalapeno. A bit lacking in depth and length, but clearly a nice wine that would work great with salads. (85 points)

2012 Hacienda Araucano (Lurton) Sauvignon Blanc Reserva - Chile, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley, Lolol
SRP: $11
Some cantaloupe and grapefruit and a green grass note. Crisp and tangy on the palate, with green melon and grapefruit, along with a good amount of minerals, a nice but of sage and rosemary note. A hint of grass, but not too much. Crowd-pleasing stuff. (86 points)

2012 Leyda Sauvignon Blanc Classic - Chile, San Antonio Valley, Leyda Valley
SRP: $13
Very pale straw color. Nose of grapefruit, white flowers, green onion, sea shells. Clean and crisp on the palate, with lively acid, some apricot and white peach. Quite intensely herbal, even for my palate, with flavors that remind me of tomatillos and green chili peppers. But there’s enough freshness and juicy fruit that I still think it works out. (85 points)

2008 Cousiño-Macul “Lota” - Chile, Maipo Valley
SRP: $70
On the nose, charcoal, iron and bell pepper flavors dust the blueberry and plum fruit. Dense on the palate, but very tangy, with firm tannins. Blackberry and plum fruit abounds, backed up by notes of mocha, sweet oak, black pepper, anise and tobacco. Big, but also pure and vibrant with a long life ahead of it. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot. (90 points)

SRP: $45
A wonderfully complex nose of plums, black cherries, violets, lots of earth, mineral and mocha. Solid tannic structure but there’s plenty of acid. Juicy black cherries and plums abound, tasting jammy but fresh at the same time. Pepper, charcoal, vanilla, clove and lingering iron and graphite all add complexity. Made from vines grown upwards of 3,000 feet, I’d love to taste this again in three or four years. (91 points)
SRP: $15
Smells savory and sweet, with charcoal and roasted plums. Tart on the palate, with easy-sipping tannins. The blue and black fruits are tart but sweet at the same time. Some mocha and basic spice accents the finish. A good party wine, but not the most complex Malbec. (84 points)

2011 Graffigna Malbec Reserve - Argentina, San Juan
SRP: $11
A nose of spicy cherries, cola and toast. The palate shows juicy tannins and smooth acid. Dark plum and blackberry fruit, coated with mocha, toast and charcoal. A bit too toasty and smoky perhaps, but still a fun wine. (85 points)

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