Separated by the curving spine of the Andes Mountains, Argentina and Chile lie side by side in the southern half of South America. These long, thin countries take latitudinal variation to the extreme, and it accounts for the huge variety of wines they produce. But it is the influence of the Pacific Ocean and altitude of the Andes that have contributed to their growing reputation as quality winemaking regions. These cooling influences moderate intense heat and sunlight, allowing grapes to ripen slowly, so that flavours intensify while retaining crucial acidity.
Beautifully-crafted Rhone blends from Chile’s Apalta Valley
Ventisquero’s Grey Glacier GCM (Grenache, Carignan and Mataro) is grown in the poor and rocky soils of the Robleria Vineyard in the Apalta Valley – a sub-region of Chile’s Central Valley – which has started to gain a reputation for its higher-altitude, premium wines. Ventisquero’s wine consultant John Duval (formerly Chief Winemaker at Penfolds) observed these vineyard conditions and was convinced of their suitability for Rhone varieties. The vineyard is planted on a west-facing terrace with excellent sun exposure to aid ripening.
The 2014 Grey Glacier GCM is full of bright red fruit. Cherries and plums are evident on the palate together with more earthy notes and black pepper. What distinguishes this wine is its refreshing acidity, aided by an initial three to five days of cold soaking to induce a slow and gentle ferment. Six months ageing in fifth-fill French oak is followed by three months in bottle to finish harmonising. This a delicious wine to pair with robust meat dishes, laced with paprika, cayenne, or pimento.
High-altitude Malbec from Argentina’s Pedernal Valley
Finca Las Moras, Argentina
Crossing the Andes to Argentina (some 700km north east of the Apalta Valley), is Pedernal Valley within the province of San Juan. The valley enjoys a continental climate, with benevolent sunshine and limited rainfall, but at 1,350 metres altitude it’s the coolest region in San Juan. The valley has attracted a number of wineries, but in 1993 Finca Las Moras was one of the first to plant Malbec on the recommendation of celebrated Australian viticulturist Dr Richard Smart.
In this cool and arid atmosphere, Finca Las Moras crafts a Malbec which is vibrant and juicy, with aromatics that shine. Discover some of the exciting winemaking going on outside Mendoza and you won’t be disappointed.