South America’s finest

The official ‘festive season’ may be over, but Perth’s summer is still graciously providing a backdrop for leisurely lunches and refreshing afternoon drinks. The clear skies, warm weather and a few glasses of Argentina’s finest, have inspired me to dedicate La Vigna’s first blog of 2016 to South American wines.

Eight years ago, I spent 12 days trekking the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, high above the Sacred Valley and worlds away from anything I had previously experienced. I don’t know if it was the breathtaking natural beauty, or the unavoidable contemplation of the fragility of human endeavour, but that trip changed me. It was strange to return to Perth and my normal life; somewhat like when you read a book and are transported so deeply, that when you put it down you’re not quite sure to which life you belong. One thing is sure, South America gained my awe and respect. What wines did I explore while traversing these physical and spiritual heights? Well, none, but I now intend to evoke and share the wonders of South America through its delicious wines!

Wine and travel are inseparable. Each bottle contains the natural essence of the region from which its grapes were grown and the Mendoza wine region in particular, expertly captures the quintessential heart of Argentina in its wines. The Malbec grape variety grows happily and untroubled in Mendoza due to the regions perfect terrior; the geography, elevation, climate and soil providing the perfect nursery for rich, textured varieties. The effect of terrior is evident in the dense richness of Argentinean Malbec and is easily discernible from the lighter, more acidic examples of the same variety in its native Cahors in the South West of France. Other red grape varieties such as Bonarda (Italian) and Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Merlots (French), also grow beautifully in Argentina.

Chilean wines are equally delightful ambassadors of South America. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Shiraz, like the varieties of their Argentinean neighbours, carry a personality unique to their regions sublime terrior. Combined with original and unadulterated vines brought to the region by missionaries in the 15th Century, inimitable quality is certain.

It was, however, the myriad of delightful white wines that I was thinking of when I referred to my recent enjoyment of clear skies, warm weather and a few glasses of South American wines. Underrepresented and somewhat forgotten, white grape varieties of South American are exceptional and their light, fresh and floral flavours are perfectly suited to summer dining.  My favourite at the moment would have to be Torrontes. Unique to Mendoza and Salta in Argentina, Torrontes is crisp, aromatic, spicy and dry, often reminding me of a Gewurztraminer. Like other crisp whites, it is a welcomed friend to rich and spicy foods.

Talking of welcomed friends, La Vigna will be showcasing a delightful array of South American wines instore this evening, and would be delighted to have you attend. Take a sip and see for yourself; one taste can transport you across the globe, and tonight the trip is ‘on me’. If you want to taste South America, what better way than through fine wine!

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