It was Steven Spurrier, the wine critic, who once said, “If some higher being were to tell me my years with Old World wine had to end, it would be to South America that I would turn.”
I have to confess I find it difficult to refute his statement. So much great wine is coming out of South America right now and it is only getting better as time goes by.
Sure, great wines are made in other areas known as the New World, but they couldn’t match the variety that South America can. Australia has only a few specific regions where great wine can be made. Same with New Zealand. The USA produces some great wines, but quality comes at a high price. And while I’m a big fan of the better Canadian wines from the Okanagan region, it is only a tiny production area compared to what can be found in South America.
Argentinian wine, in particular, is a compelling choice right now. While the malbec grape has dominated its red wine production for years and torrontes is known as its signature white grape, there is more going on than these two stalwarts.
The big thing in Argentina right now – as has been passed on by word of mouth and also is evident on wine retailers’ stock lists – are blends. No more are we just seeing malbec and a small scattering of other grape varietals. The cabernet-merlot blends and even shiraz-malbecs are hitting the market in droves.
Grapes like carmenere are being blended with cabernet sauvignon, while white grapes like chardonnay, viognier and marsanne are coming together to produce some racy wines.
While I’m not completely sold on much of the wine coming out of South America – much of it can be undrinkable plonk – I’m finding it a safer bet when I am presented with an unknown, and often limited, wine list form which to choose the evening’s drink.