Chile v Argentina - A Comparative Tasting
Presented by Theo Sloot
The Oxford Wine Café, 38 South Parade, Oxford OX2 7JN
I thought it would be interesting to compare these two classic South American wine producing countries that both make wine in the shadows of the mighty Andes Mountains that separate them. What are the differences in the styles and grape varieties they produce? And how did each country develop its own particular style in the first place?
We started by considering the history of the two areas and then moved on to the vast economic differences between the two countries, with Chile managing a stable and healthy economy whilst Argentina struggling largely through economic mismanagement. In the course of the tasting I talked about my buying trip to Argentina and how in the wine city of Mendoza crashed cars are held together on the road with sticky tape, there are garages everywhere doing repairs and there is some terrible driving - we saw a crash happening on the way to the hotel! We considered the fact that Chile has the big brands which account for a large percentage of sales like Concha Y Toro and Cono Sur, whilst Argentina doesn't have brands of that size, but can offer wines with real personality and a greater sense of place (or terroir) in my opinion. Argentina also has more mineral soils with some plantings closer to the Andes (cold air descends at night to rest the vines) as they need vineyard height to counteract the extreme heat of their valley floors. Chile relies more on the sea influence and cooling from both the Andes and the cold ocean with its Humboldt Current. Also that Argentina drinks 2/3 of its own wine whilst Chile exports most of its produce.
As usual we had a good laugh along the way and tasted a varied range of three wines from each country with some top examples from each. At the end of the tasting I invited the crowd to vote for their favourite country and Argentina came out on top on the night, but the vote was close and it came down to personal preference as usual. This was interesting in itself because a few years ago people would not have been that familiar with Argentinian wine and very familiar with those from Chile. Things are changing as they always do in the world of wine. A good time was had by all and there was lots of feedback on the wines from the crowd which I always encourage.
Theo Sloot - Fine Wine, PR & Marketing