This month we are celebrating the wonderful wines being produced in South America. From the new classics such as Argentine Malbec and Chilean Carmenère to more unusual bottles and indigenous grape varieties, such as Bonarda or Tannat, South America has much to offer the curious wine connoisseur.
And, to help you get started discovering these brilliant bottles, we are offering a 10% discount on all South American wines throughout the month of April. Just type in the code 'SOUTHAMERICA18' at the checkout, or mention the promotion instore!
Home to the highest vineyards in the world, Argentina is about wines with attitude, and wines with altitude. Both reds and whites are produced, from multiple grape varieties, but Argentina is best known for the previously rather underappreciated Malbec. Once confined to the small appellation of Cahors in the south of France, Argentina has given Malbec a new lease of life. Unashamedly enjoyable, ripe, fruity wines are this country's trademark, and increasingly fine wines are being produced as this star of South America matures as a giant of the viticultural world.
South America's longest, narrowest country is a haven for wine production. It benefits from a sunny climate and is shielded from many of the pests that plague producers elsewhere, being protected by the Andes, the Atacama Desert, and of course the Pacific Ocean. As a result, organic viticulture is widespread. The country has a reputation for well-made, reliable wines that come in at very attractive price points - but underestimate Chile at your peril. It is fast becoming a source for excellent quality wines that are often scandalously underpriced.
Argentina's signature grape variety, Malbec is ripe, rich and approachable. It shows flavours of plum and dark chocolate. The best examples come from high altitude vineyards in regions such as Mendoza.
Carmenère is most commonly found in Chile, where it was long believed to be a clone of Merlot. Its rounded, soft fruit is similar to Merlot, but Carmenère shows a herbal edge all of its own.
Sauvignon Blanc may be the world's most popular white grape variety, and it can be found almost anywhere wine is being made. Chile's Sauvignon is less tropical than that of New Zealand, but riper than French bottlings.
The King of white grapes, Chardonnay is responsible for some of the world's finest wines. South American producers are producing wonderful examples with judicious use of oak which are well worth a try.
All tropical fruit and aromatics, Torrontes is Argentina's signature grape variety. It is often characterised as a lighter Gewurztraminer, showing similar lychee, stone fruit and spice aromatics.
From the Oxford Wine Company Blog
Taste Explorations with Thomas Fowler - South America's Unsung Heroes
Focus on Flavour with Matthew Whitaker - Wines of Chile
My first experience of Chilean wine was back in my student days, when various supermarkets offered three bottles of wine for ten pounds! What a fantastic deal, if not a little irresponsible. Many of the wines available happened to be Chilean, often Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. As you can probably imagine, these wines were not of the greatest quality, but that most certainly wasn't my primary reason for buying them. As a result of deals like this, Chile is a wine producing country is that is associated with being cheap and cheerful. This has had the positive effect of helping Chile to get established as a major wine producing and exporting country. The problem, however, is that it has led to the preconception that you can't find top quality Chilean wine. Read More