Heading to the Southern Hemisphere
For this week’s wine tasting, we head to Chile, Argentina, and Australia to taste some offerings by winemakers. It’s a great sign of all the spring releases to come.
We are excited to be back after a long hiatus that involved revamping our website and touring France for some intel on new vintages and producers. For our first order of business, we decided to head far away from Europe for inspiration, choosing Chile, Argentina, and Australia, who have been releasing new 2018 and 2019 vintages stateside in recent weeks.
We have been impressed by the cost-to-value ratio for Chilean and Argentinean wines and the continued innovation from younger Australian winemakers. The four wines we have selected vary considerably in style – from some old world reminiscent red wines to an explosive and dynamic sparkling wine to a fruit forward white with some richness. All of these bottles can be enjoyed now, though a few would hold up well to a few years of aging.
Our first wine brings us to Chile, specifically to the site of very old vines estimated to be 150 years old. Fundo La Union is made from the País grape, which was the primary grape grown in Chile until the introduction of French grapes in the late 20th century.
In the glass, this wine is gorgeous ruby in color, which turns almost electric red when exposed to a light source. This is a red on the lighter side, with intermingling sharp cranberry and juicy raspberry notes giving away to a dusty rose and mineral quality. Though the wine feels wispy and ethereal, it is also grounded by a pleasant saltiness and soft earthiness into the finish. At just around $25, we describe this vintage as having old world complexity for new world cost.
Cacique Maravilla is one of the natural wine making pioneers in Chile, known for making unfiltered, youthful, and playful vintages that highlight Chilean grape varieties so well.
Their Gutiflower sparkling wine is one of the first tastes of 2019 harvests, blending Moscatel and Corinto into a cloudy orange hued pour. Overall, we would describe this as being for adventurous palettes, as ripe mango and lemon upfront give way to an intensely tart quality. The closest thing we can think of is sucking on a melon candy. As the wine further opens up, intensely floral qualities emerge, like you’re enjoying freshly cut flowers.
One thing to note about this wine is that it is very explosive when it is first opened up. As such, we recommend opening over a sink, as things are likely to get a little bit messy. Enjoy very cold for maximum enjoyment.
Our next wine takes us to Argentina, in the Calingasta Valley in the San Juan Province that borders Chile. Moscatel, commonly associated with fruity and heavily perfumed wines, gets something of a makeover over at Cara Sur through a small period of skin contact aging.
The results? A richly yellow colored wine with a waxy, herbal nose. On the palette, it is quite dry with pronounced acidity through lemon drop notes and touches of candied apple. Despite the juicy nature of this wine, aging on the skins also imparts more structure, with the waxier smell carrying over into the mid-palette for some structural balance. However, the wine never feels flabby or weighed down, still capturing the playful spirit that defines Moscatel we most commonly see.
Our final wine finds us hopping on a plane to Australia to Mount Gambier, where Limus Wine produces their Tidal Red, a blend of Pinot Noir and Merlot that upends conventions of both grapes through cooler weather plots that are adjacent to the coast.
In the glass, the wine is a deep, almost impenetrable purple. On the nose, softer red fruits open up into flinty, almost pencil shavings notes. The palette melds spicy and peppery tannic notes with a structured and driving acidity, deep minerality, and umami laden ocean salinity. Despite being a young wine, it manages to showcase how even newly emerging winemakers can produce laser focused and stable vintages in Australia. If you like your glass of wine a little broody, this is just the bottle for you.