The following post was written by Heinen’s wine expert, Ed Thompkins.
For the last few decades, the world-wide landscape of key wine-producing regions has been dominated by Europe (France, Italy, Germany and Spain) and New World outposts of the US, Australia and New Zealand. Lurking somewhat quietly under the radar has been not just a wine-producing country, but an entire continent – South America!
While savvy wine fans have appreciated the historically excellent values from Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, the more modern and contemporary wines of South America are a delightful marriage of Old World traditions and state-of-the-art production. Now more than ever, these exceptional wines are considered extraordinary values.
We are excited to introduce you to a curated selection of our favorite new South American Wine finds! Our team of experts continues to be impressed by the expressive and complex flavors of the wines that we discovered and brought back to feature. Old favorites like Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc reside nicely with wines that truly capture the South American spirit such as Malbec, Carménère, Bonarda, Tannat and Torrontes.
Food pairings are limited only to your imagination, but the classic and typical dance partner for most reds in South America is simple and singular – beef! Pair any of our featured reds with your favorite cut of beef and you won’t be disappointed. In contrast, our white wines demonstrate vibrant acidity and brightness, making them the perfect match for seafood and summer salads.
The fifth-largest wine-producing country in the world, Argentina got its start in the wine world in 1557 with cuttings from Chile from Spanish missionaries. Mendoza is the epicenter of Argentine wine, producing over 70% of the countries selection. While a broad range of varietals are grown, in Argentina, Malbec is king!
- Zuccardi: Chardonnay, Malbec and Cabernet Franc
- Mendoza Vineyards: Grand Reserve Malbec
- Santa Julia: Torrontes, Chardonnay, Bonarda, Reserve Mountain Blend
- Paul Hobbs/Vina Cobos: Pinot Noir, Cocodrilo Blend and Bramare Malbec
Considered one of the oldest “New World” regions, Chilean winemaking started in the 16th century when Spanish conquistadores brought vines with them when colonizing the country. Chile is unique to the wine world because of their geographically isolated vineyards that prevent many pests from attacking the vines. This allows the grapes to grow on their own original or ‘pure’ rootstock.
- Los Vascos: Sauvignon Blanc, Rose and Cabernet Sauvignon
- Santa Ema: Cabernet Sauvignon
- Cremaschi Furlotti: Single Vineyard Carménère
Located east of Argentina and south of Brazil, Uruguay is on the Atlantic Ocean (opposed to Argentina and Chile’s Pacific Ocean orientation) with a southern shoreline. It was colonized by predominately Basque settlers who introduced modern grape varietals in the 1870s. Much like Malbec is considered the main grape of Argentina, Uruguay is associated with a somewhat more obscure red grape – Tannat. Tannat shares a French heritage with many of the other red varieties in Argentina and Chile; however, Tannat is an extraordinarily unique grape on its own. Most Tannats are a deep, dark purple color with pronounced red and black fruit flavors on a frame that, while substantial, shows lushness and grace on the finish.
- Bodega Garzon: Reserve Tannat
We invite you to explore our new South American Wine selection and look forward to helping you discover your own favorite sippers and pairings.