A couple weeks ago, our Wine Director, Doug Due, and VP of Purchasing, Steve Wilson, traveled to Chile and Argentina to source some fantastic South American wine. South America is a current "hot" region to buy wine from, given the increasing quality of the wine, plus the still inexpensive price of the wine.
Chile is now the fifth largest exporter of wines in the world, and the ninth largest producer. The climate has been described as midway between that of California and France. The most common grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenère.
Argentina is the fifth largest producer, and has a rich wine history, dating back to the 16th century, when the Spanish imported grape vines to the region. Argentina is best known for its Malbec and Torrontés wines, though Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay and other international varieties are becoming more widely planted.
Doug and Steve’s first stop was in Santiago, Chile. They visited several wineries, cherry-picking great wines. One of the more exciting finds was Carménère wine, made from a grape found almost exclusively in Chile, although its origins are the Bordeaux region in France. For more on Carménère, click here.
On Wednesday, Steve and Doug flew to Mendoza, Argentina and met with 19 wineries on Thursday and Friday. Doug is especially excited about the Malbec wines he found. Malbec is celebrated as an Argentine varietal, though like the Carménère, it traces its origins back to Bordeaux. Malbec is a very intense wine, so it is also commonly used in blends, such as with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to create the red French Bordeaux claret blend. For more on Malbec, click here.
On Saturday, our intrepid adventurers were scheduled to fly back to Chile, but the Chile earthquake woke them up at 3:34 am! Mendoza is 105 miles from Santiago, which is itself 100 miles from the quake’s epicenter. The Andes dampened the effects of the quake—Mendoza shook, but did not receive anywhere near the devastation that Chile encountered. Still, Steve said, it was quite scary to be woken up by the hotel rolling and shaking. Instead of flying back home through Santiago, Doug and Steve transferred to flights out of Buenos Aires. We’re happy to have them back safe and sound!
Doug says that we will be planning a South American wine promotion in a month or two. Since the earthquake damaged a lot of the export infrastructure, we’re still waiting for the wine to show up. Still, when that wine comes in, it’s going to be fantastic!
“Look for quality and pricing on par or better than what we had for Australia,” Doug says. “We’re very excited to bring you top-quality wines at bottom-of-the-barrel prices.”