Stress Free Wine Tip #8: South America's Wine Countries
South America's two big wine producers, Chile and Argentina, lie on either side of the Andes Mountain range, both being fed by streams and rivers created by the mountains' melting ice and of course rainfall. Chile's wine country is largely a long series of valleys running east to west, each with a river travelling from the Andes: a country that seems to have been designed to be a wine producer. Argentina's wine output is substantially larger than Chile's due to its size, but Chile's quality is not to be overlooked.
|Chile's and Argentina's Wine Regions|
Separated by the Andes Mountains
If you notice on the wine map above, Argentina's regions reach much further north--towards the hotter equatorial regions--than Chile's does. This is due to the huge high elevation plateaus in western Argentina that provide cooler temperatures than the surrounding low lands. Argentina's current famous export, Malbec has been a hit with American wine drinkers, and has joined the small list of beef lovers' go-to favorites. Argentina also makes wine from two other lesser known grapes, Torrontes and Bonarda. Chile, for its part, does make an attractive wine from the Carmenere grape, but mainly sticks to the better known grapes of French origin that we all know, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc.
There are still many real bargains to be had by shopping in the Chile and Argentina sections of your local wine department, so check them out.
-- Marc Soucy, FWS CSWMarc Wine Blog