You know the story by now, but it bears repeating as background. The vineyards of Chile, crammed up against the west side of the Andes, gets cold breezes from the Pacific and plenty of moisture that comes with them. By contrast, on the east side of the mountains, Argentina gets almost none of the rainfall and is a high-altitude desert. But it does get snowmelt for irrigation.
Winemakers in Chile long ago decided that with the weather and terroir they’re given, they would plant Cabernet Sauvignon (although Merlot might ripen better). Likewise, Argentine winemakers decided that if the world gave them high deserts, they would make Malbec.
Both can be delightful – and they are the primary pours in this edition of The Dozen.
2021 Piedro Negra “Alta” Mendoza Pinot Gris ($12). Enjoyable, with apple fruitiness and fresh metallic minerality to give extra dimension.
2021 Concha y Toro “Marques de Casa Concha” Limari Valley Chardonnay ($21). Fruity, yet crisp with stony minerality and firm apple flavors.
2020 Trivento Mendoza Malbec Reserve ($11). Some cassis with blackberries and savory flavors, though the flavors are not totally integrated – but still good for the price.
2020 Chakana Nuna Lujan de Cuyo Bonarda ($15). A little like a grape soda, with grapey, yeasty aromas, and a candied grape fruitiness.
2018 Los Vascos “Cromas” Valle de Colchagua Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva ($17). Both an intriguing and a comforting wine – a good blend of cherries and savory dried herbs, a dusty chocolate layer, and a mouth-watering tangy finish.
2018 Maquis Colchagua Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva ($18). A lighter style, though not lean, with many savory notes to go with the blackberries and with good finishing acidity.
2018 Terra Noble Valle de Colchagua Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva ($18). Good mix of fruit and earthiness, somewhat granular, lots of dusty tannins.
2019 Concha y Toro “Marques de la Concha” Limari Valley Pinot Noir ($20). Not a complex wine, but enjoyable cherry flavors and a satisfying finish.
2021 Krontiras Mendoza Malbec Natural ($20). Dark, juicy, purplish fruit with added flavors of dried garrigue.
2018 Trivento “Golden Reserve” Lujan de Cuyo Malbec ($20). Bright fruitiness with lip-smacking tannins.
2018 Torres Cordillera “Parcela Coluvíon” Maipo Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($23). Very well made with rich purple fruits married with savory barrel flavors in the classic style.
2017 Aquitania “Lazuli” Maipo Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($34). Good combo of blackberries and green savory notes and a good balance of moderate tannins and finishing acidity.
Prices listed are generally SRP or from wine-searcher.com. As more wineries are now shipping direct-to-consumer, check the winery website if you can’t find a bottle in your retail store.
Feature photo is courtesy of Trivento.