Tuesday, 30 August 2011

New from South America

My brother was in Cornwall this weekend and this was a good opportunity to try out three recent arrivals from South America. He normally goes for deep, rich reds from Southern Italy and Spain, so this was an interesting departure from his comfort zone, but also a bit of a departure from the 'normal' South American wines as the three we tried were all made with European grape varieties.

Chocalan Cabernet Franc Reserve 2009 - Cabernet Franc, important player in Right Bank Clarets and the single most important red grape variery in the Anjou Touraine area covering Saumur, Bourgeuil and Chinon. Well, this is a BIG wine! High on alcohol at 14.5 % and quite weighty in the mouth. This is a delicious wine that needs a sturdy meat course to soak up the tannic strength and evident alcohol.

Many of the wine making dynasties in Argentina were founded by Italian immigrants in the early part of the 20th Century. The original Pulenta winery was sold in 1997, but the grandsons of the founder built their own winery in 2001 to continue the family tradition of winemaking. They are based in the Alto Agrelo, the higher section of the Mendoza region. The La Flor wines are designed for immediate enjoyment, being bottled and released after only 3 months in oak. The result is a surprisingly fresh and youthful tasting wine which has a light tannic structure and a level of acidity not usually associated with Cabernet Sauvignon. This was the firm favourite in our group on Saturday night!

Across the Andes into Chile, specifically the Casablanca Valley, the principle cool climate region in the country. Up in the hills of the coastal zone the vines benefit from cooling winds and mists that allow the grapes to rest. The terroir of granitic and clay soils with this cooling air creates intense, fresh and elegant wines. In my opinion this makes these wines more approachable earlier in their lives as they are not designed for longevity in the same way as the great Burgundian Pinot Noirs are. The Vista Hermosa wines are produced as part of a collection designed to showcase the high quality of these Chilean products, and boy, do they deliver! Light and delicate with small floral hints and gentle enough to drink, as we did, as an aperitif  and alongside a tomato and buffalo mozzarella salad before a hearty dinner of roast beef! The gentle acidity worked well with cheese and tomato combo!

All in all we were pretty impressed by all three of these wines for different reasons. They are all available in the shop at around the £9 - £11 price range, and well worth the extra money!

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