Wines of South America Festival

KevinWineLeave a Comment

I just got back from the Wines of South America Festival at Fine Wines by Liquor Select. I tasted 43 wines or so, and had some very nice food. Overall a very nice event. All the wines were from Chile, Argentina, and Uraguay.
I’ll post some tasting notes on some favorites, many of which are good values, but a few comments first.
First, loads of abuse of oak. If you like wood-drink, you’d have been in heaven. I can picture a juice-box with a picture of a tree on it. I’m not just being fussy or smart here, I do like oaked wine, but not when all you can taste, is wood. All the reps would proudly regurgitate how many months of élevage they’d had in ‘new oak’, mostly french, trying to impress. No lucious fruits to accompany it. Just oak. I’m going to be bold and say about half of them were flogging you with oak, and I’d never buy them because of it. ‘Oh, but they might age’. I’ll trust Parker that a shitty wine now will likely be a shitty wine in 5 years.
Second impression: the grape that stood out was merlot. They’re known for malbec and cab sauv, but the merlots tended to be lighter, fruiter, and offered more aroma and pleasant flavour than I expected. More pizzaz. The loser varietal: Tannat. I’d never heard of it before, and my first experience was one of dirty barn stench and flacid taste. The worst flavour note I got was from a particular cab sauv: notes of poo. Lovely.
All that said, I did find some wines that tasted like they’d been made from grapes, and some wines I quite liked. I will post them and their tasting notes soon, as I think they’d be worth a read/taste. But I think 8 out of 43 wine that were likeable is a pretty low batting average. 18%. The lesson – which Wine Spectator had already led me to believe, is that when buying south american wines, it will more miss than hit. France is the opposite. The only redeeming quality is that when you do find a good wine, it tends to be a good value. So I’m happy to have trudged through that many wines. At least now my batting average will be significantly improved when choosing wines from those countries.
But certainly as a caution about red south american wine: buyer beware.

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