Mark Aselstine
June 16, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

South American Wines

During the past two weeks I had a chance to visit family in South America, the trip allowed me to catch up and interestingly brought me back to some of the restaurants and sites which Matt and I originally discussed opening Uncorked Ventures almost two years ago.

While being back made me reminisce somewhat, it also helped open my eyes once again to wine choices in the developing world.

The South American wine market is largely dominated by regional producers Chile and Argentina. As many wine drinkers already know, Argentina has made a name for themselves as the pre-imminent grower and producer of Malbec. No where in the world does the grape fare as well as it does in the Mendoza including its ancestral home of France, a fact we’re planning on exploring in a future blog entry.

Chile is a more diverse wine producing region, largely known in the United States for its production of Cabernet Sauvignon, the country is among the most developed in South America and its growing regions resemble California’s perhaps more than any other. Much of the Chilean exports to other South American countries still center around their Cabernet Sauvignon which in the export market is cheap, fruit forward and easy to drink. During my trip, I also saw a range of white wines from Chile which are not normally found within the United States, including wide selections of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

One of the things that surprised me while visiting was the complete lack of lighter styled red wines in the market place. Pinot Noir, a staple in my home state of California is completely absent as is Merlot and other lesser known varietals such as Grenache and Tempranillo. It is nice to see though that a market is still able to be largely regionally focused on wines from nearby wine regions. Frankly, when traveling I don’t want to see the same wine lists that I see back home, where’s the fun in that?


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