Argentina vs. Chile

Monday, October 24th, 2011

On a rousing Tuesday evening, South America was in the air as freelance food and wine writer Mary Burnham channeled us into the exciting world of Argentine and Chilean wines.   As an author of the 2011 Food & Wine Magazine Guide to Wine, Mary has sizable experience in the amazing wines from both of these countries.

Mary started the class off by introducing the students to the major winemaking regions of Argentina and Chile; each region being successful for particular types of wine.  Mendoza is Argentina’s most famous region, renowned by its inky and tannic Malbec wines.  Further up north, Salta is a desert like region that is prominent for its production of Torrontes wines.  Over in Chile, Casablanca is a region that is very significant for its quality Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc wines.  Maipo Valley is another noteworthy region of Chile that is best known for producing well-rounded reds, particularly noted for its Cabernet Sauvignon.  Some of the most southern regions of both countries, Rio Negro of Argentina and Bío Bío of Chile, are recently receiving a lot more recognition for their exceptional Pinot Noir.

Blessed by unlimited sunshine and the Andes Mountains, both countries have truly ideal grape growing conditions.  The Andes not only act as a rain shield for Argentina, it also provides natural irrigation to both countries through its constant snowmelt.  The Humboldt Current from Antarctica and the Andes Mountains both provide cool breezes that help the grapes retain their acidity after spending all day soaking in the sun.  With all of these beneficial conditions, it is not surprising that Argentine and Chilean wines have created such a stir in the wine industry.

And next, we moved on to the wines.  We tasted some signature grapes from their associated regions, such as Malbec from Mendoza and Carmènere from Colchagua Valley.  We also compared the same varietals from both countries like Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and other red blends.  After completing our voyage through all 15 tastings, the class was put to a vote to decide which country the majority of the favorites came from.  The winner by a mere point…Argentina!

My Top Pick for the Night?

Archaval Ferrer Malbec 2009 – Mendoza, Argentina

This absolutely stunning Malbec had rich notes of dark chocolate, boysenberries, and blackberries.  To match the opulence, the wine was toughened up by its characteristics of tobacco and cloves.  The most intriguing part of this wine was the aftertaste of dried grapefruit and Puerh tea that allows you to fully indulge in the savory tannins of this Malbec.

Thanks to Mary and Brian for a wonderful journey through South American wines!

-Julie Albin

Wine List:

  1. Cono Sur “Visiòn” Block Loma Roja Sauvignon Blanc 2009- Casablanca Valley, Chile
  2. Colomé Valle Calchaqui Torrontes 2010- Salta, Argentina
  3. Catena Alamos Chardonnay 2009 – Mendoza, Argentina
  4. Santa Ema Amplus Chardonnay 2008- Leyda Valley, Chile
  5. Luigi Bosca Estate Reserve Pinot Noir 2009 – Maipu, Mendoza, Argentina
  6. Casa Marin Lo Abarca Hills Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 – San Antonio Valley, Chile
  7. Colonia Las Liebres Bonarda 2006 – Mendoza, Argentina
  8. Matetic Corralillo Syrah 2009 – San Antonio Valley, Chile
  9. Casa Silva Los Lingues Gran Reserva Carmènere 2006 – Colchagua Valley, Chile
  10. Le Dix de Los Vascos 2008 (85% cab, 8% carmènere, 7% syrah) – Colchagua Valley, Chile
  11. Clos de la Sieté 2008 (malbec, merlot, cab, syrah, petit verdot) – Mendoza, Argentina
  12. Valentin Bianchi Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 – Mendoza, Argentina
  13. Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 – Central Valley, Chile
  14. Altos Las Hormigas Reserva Malbec 2006 – Valle de Ucco, Mendoza, Argentina
  15. Archaval Ferrer Malbec 2009 – Mendoza, Argentina

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