Thursday, October 30, 2014

South American Wines Deliver Awesome Value

South America has been a haven for value-driven wines for years. When I was first getting into wine, I spent lots of time navigating Argentina and Chile for tasty and inexpensive bottles, especially Malbecs from Mendoza. Years later, producers from Chile, Argentina and Uruguay are consistently putting out inexpensive wines that appeal to a broad array of palates.

There were no epiphanies in this crew, but a whole bunch of reliable wines and smart buys. The wines were received as trade samples and tasted blind for a report on the daily wine blog Terroirist, where this post first appeared.

2012 Trapiche Malbec Oak Cask- Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $10
Bright purple colored. On the nose: smoke, mocha, dark and rich, like plum cake and blackberry cobbler. On the palate, this wine is medium-bodied with very fine and smoothed out tannins, some moderate acid for balance. I like the black olive and cherry cola accents. Fresh and juicy but not simple, and all the elements line up really well. Some mossy rock and coffee notes on the finish. Good stuff for the price. (87 points)

2011 Trapiche Malbec Broquel - Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $15
Smoky on the nose, spice and chestnut on top of gushing plums. Fresh acid and firm tannic structure provides backbone, but the mouthfeel is pure velvet. Plummy, dark berry-driven with loads of smoke, earth, cola, cedar and spices. Aged 15 months in 100% new French and American oak. For $15, this is a reliably awesome wine. (88 points)

2012 Bodegas Caro Malbec Aruma- Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $16
Plummy purple color. An aromatic burst of dark plums, boysenberry and black cherries, some loam and cocoa powder notes. Tart, fresh and juicy on the palate with soft tannins and an easy-drinking personality. Black cherries and blackberries, dusted with some pepper and sweet clove. Fun, crowd-pleasing stuff. (86 points)

2012 Viña Santa Rita Sauvignon Blanc Medalla Real Gran Reserva- Chile, San Antonio Valley, Leyda Valley
SRP: $16
A clear straw color. Very fresh and floral on the nose, with honeysuckle and orange blossom on top of green apple and apricot, hint of crushed rocks, actually quite deep and aromatically intriguing. Bright acid, light and crisp on the palate, with green apple peel, kiwi and green melon flavors. Very pretty, with floral perfume undertones and some cucumber water and mineral notes on the finish. Impressed, and craving seafood. (89 points)

2012 Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) Cabernet Sauvignon Los Vascos- Chile, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley
SRP: $12
Nose of black and red plums, earth, cinnamon and espresso. Tart on the palate with fine tannins. Plums and black cherry fruit with rhubarb and sweet coffee, some underlying earthy tones Enjoyable and good for the price. (85 points)

2013 Concha y Toro Pedro Jimenez Specialties by Frontera- Chile
SRP: $8
Light yellow color. Smells of white flowers, grapefruit pulp, margarita with lime, a hint of mint. Light and fresh on the palate with tangy lemon and grapefruit, kiwi, some sea salt notes and a hint of lavender perfume. Crisp, fun, fruity, an attractive, especially for summer outdoor summer sipping. 87% Pedro Jimenez, 10% Moscato and 3% Sauvignon Blanc. A rare $8 rec, but I’m into this. (87 points)

2013 Concha y Toro País Specialties by Frontera- Chile
SRP: $8
Bright ruby-cherry color. Smells of sweet cranberry sauce, cherry jam and roses. Juicy and light on the palate with low tannins and medium acid. Plummy, cherry-driven, with notes of sweet roses and pepper. Light, tangy, tasty. (85 points)

2012 Garzón Tannat- Uruguay, Maldonado
SRP: $20
A vibrant magenta color. Nose shows deep blueberry, blackberry and cassis, smoky, charcoal, graphite and pencil lead as well. Juicy, a bit more tart and tangy that structured, the blackberry and cassis fruit tastes tangy and crunchy, with medium+ acid. Full and smoky, with lots of pencil lead and graphite and iron. Some nice smoke and roasted meat undertones. Very impressive for a $20 Uruguayan red. I think it could take a few years to mellow out though. From a vineyard just 11 miles from the Atlantic. (87 points)

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