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"A South American Shootout"

  by Fred McMillin

 

Prologue

When top wine industry consultants rank Chile as having the highest quality-wine potential, it is time to sit up and take notice. Add the praise they also are heaping on Argentina, and South America suddenly seems worthy of a lot more respect.

Eduardo Chadwick
Errazuriz President Eduardo Chadwick

However, there are labels offering more hype than substance, so these wines should be approached with caution.

...Richard Neill, Wine Enthusiast


The Rest of the Story

To find some of the better wines, we held a large blind tasting of a number of prominent South American bottles. When the firing ended, these were left standing. But first, a word about their names.


The Name Problem

Tarapaca, Errazuriz, Calina, Casa Donoso...not easy to pronounce or remember. So, we've listed the U.S.A. importer's name prominently with each selection, to help you and your wine merchant identify the bottle you want.


The Varietals

The leading varieties come pretty much from Bordeaux...Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, etc...plus Burgundy's Chardonnay.

  The Winners
9th Chile, Dessert Sauvignon Blanc, Errazuriz, '96, $11 (375 ml.)(pictured)
Importer: Robert Mondavi
8th Chile, Merlot, Pionero, '97, $8
Importer: Racke
7th Argentina, Malbec-Cab Blend, Santa Julia, '97, $7
Importer: Winesellers
6th Argentina, Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Julia, '98, $7
Importer: Winesellers
5th Chile, Cabernet Franc, Vina Calina, '97, $18
Importer: Kendall-Jackson
4th Chile, Reserva Chardonnay, Caliterra, '96, $12
Importer: Robert Mondavi
3rd Chile, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vina Calina, '96, $18
Importer: Kendall-Jackson
2nd Argentina, Merlot, Evoluna, '97 $10
Importer: Boisset U.S.A.
Winner Argentina, Malbec Oak Reserve, Santa Julia, '96, $10
Importer: Winesellers

Postscript

The Larousse Encyclopedia of Wine five years ago said Chile was leading the South American wine revolution, with Argentina preparing to follow. Since Argentina won the first two spots in this tasting, it looks like the preparations are going pretty well.

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