Wines to welcome you to the beautiful south

Flagship wines 18.09.14

Flagship wines 18.09.14 - Credit: Archant

At this time of year with the nights drawing in, a few days of Indian summer weather to remind us that summer is waning and cooler autumnal days are here then the summer salads give way to heartier meals and require suitable wines to accompany them.

The Beautiful South Trade tasting that included wines from Chile and Argentina reminded me that these two countries produce the ideal wines to suit this time of year. Their hot southern hemisphere climates ensure that both red and white grape varieties ripen full creating mouthfilling yet refreshing whites and robust textural quality reds.

It always surprises me that given the Argentinian penchant for their delicious home grown beef that one of their great success stories in terms of wine production is that of the Torrontes grape variety. It is a native of Argentina and one of the most aromatic varities available. A key trait is that it has a lovely mouthfilling yet refreshing tropical and citrus fruit aroma and flavour with a refreshing thread of acidity to lift the flavours.

In recent years the Argentinian wine growers have determined the best areas for each grape and the region around Cafayate, high in the Andes, five hours drive from Salta the nearest airport favours the Torrontes with its high altitude vineyards ensuring slightly cooler night time temperatures that help retain freshness in the wines produced. Look our for unoaked versions such as those made by Trapiche and Nieto Senetiner.

Of course Malbec is the renowned Argentinian red that has shot to fame in the last five years. The Mendoza region is the home of many top Malbec vineyards and producers. Regional variations are becoming apparent with areas such as Lujan de Cuyo, the Uco Valley and Agrelo becoming well known.

Chilean Malbec is now on the map though different in style to the full, layered juicy fruit Argentinian version. It has a leaner style though no less full and fruity, with a lingering finish more suited to the more varied Chilean diet. For me, Chilean Cabernet is in a league of its own in South America as it has the delicious blackcurrant fruit flavours, soft lightly tannic structure with an additional lifted note of cooking herbs making it a lovely accompaniment to many meat dishes. Viu Manent and Vistamar are names to look out for. Chilean winemakers have in my opinion, up til now, not been great with Pinot except for one or two exceptions such as Cono Sur. However, recently Vistamar in their Sepia range and throughout the quality and price range from Ventisquero for example have made some delicious Pinot noir based wines with good varietal character, soft luscious fruit with a hint of ripe tannins and spice on the long finish.

In addition, Chilean wineries have experimented with white grape varieties too and it is well worth seeking out the lovely refreshing aromatic Gewurztraminers and Viogniers from the cooler Casablanca Valley wineries such as the organic wines of Emiliana and also the lovely minerally Chardonnay both lightly oaked and unoaked versions from the same regions where the freshness is very apparent.

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The Beautiful South countries are obviously coming of age in the styles, and quality of wine they produce but more interestingly it hasn’t been at the expense of value for money.

The Flagship Wines Wine Fair 2014 – Friday, October 17

Whether you know a little or a lot about wine, our Wine Fair is a fun way to learn about wines, discover some new favourites, find ideas for festive gifts and meals, and enjoy a night out with friends!

There will be a number of our suppliers at the Wine fair introducing their wines many of which will be new to our range including some delicious wines from Hungary and Croatia

Our 2014 Wine Fair will take place at St Albans Boys’ School on October 17 from 7-10pm.

Tickets are just £15 each, including tasting and food. They must be bought in advance. Call in the shop for your tickets, or buy them from the Tourist Office in St Albans.