8 South American Wines You Should Try

South American Wines.jpg

By Dathan Kazsuk, Triangle Around Town

Wine classes are a great way to learn more about the wine you’re drinking and about certain regions of the world that you probably never visited before. I’ve never been to South America, but I know they make some outstanding wines – especially Chile, which is a long, narrow country that stretches along South America’s western edge.

And as part of our goal to obtain the status of level 1 Sommeliers before the end of next year, we have been trying to learn a lot more about the different wine regions around the world. And of course, drink a lot more wine!

On June 5 we were able to kill two birds with one stone, when Wine and Beer 101 in Wake Forest had its South America 2.0 Class. Store owner Joe O’Keefe had so many great wines he wanted to share with his patrons that he needed two different dates to showcase all Chile has to offer. We missed the first class, but were able to score two seats for the second part of the series.

The class was $30 per person, which is a great deal when you get to sample 8 different wines from Chile and pair that up with some pasta and chicken marsala. The 90 minute event had O’Keefe sharing his adventures in Chile where he tried all the wines at each of the wineries, hanging out with the owners and winemakers. He said that during his 5 day stay in Chile he tried a total of 85 different wines from 13 different wineries. What a life!

Let’s run through each of the wines we sampled that night:

Apaltagua Costero Brut – This was our first wine. A bubbly there to cleanse our palates. Pale gold in color with tiny, fine bubbles. Notes of crusty bread and hazelnuts with some white fruit such as green apples. | Reg. $19.99; Class price – $15.99

Tercos Torrentés – This was a crisp, light white wine. Acidic with hints of lime and pineapple. Torrontés is almost exclusively grown in Argentina. Our table really liked this wine, and O’Keefe said this was one of his first wines he had when he arrived in South America. | Reg. $15.99; Class price – $12.99

Calcu Rosé – The winery’s name means “healing doctor” or “magician” in the native tongue of Mapuche. And this Rose was magic! This wine was a pale pink with very subtle hints of violet. The nose was tropical, almost mango like. A very good Rosé at a great price. | Reg. $14.99; Class price – $11.99

Apaltagua Colección Pinot Noir – Many people loved this Pinot Noir, while personally, it wasn’t my cup of juice. It was a little rough around the edges for what I’m usually used to tasting in a Oregon or Washington state Pinot. A little more acidic on my tongue. But still not a bad wine. | Reg. $24.99; Class price – $19.99

Calcu Cabernet Franc – This was a real good Cab Franc! We even snuck seconds on this one at the end of the night. Big, bold fruit aromas and a dab of spice and chocolate. This made me smack my head because I just recently bought a North Carolina Cabernet Franc just a little better than this one for double the price! This will be my new go to Franc when eating tomato-based pasta! | Reg. $15.99; Class price – $12.99

Apaltagua Envero Carmenere – By this time we’re thinking that O’Keefe really knows how to pick his wines. Even though I wasn’t a fan of the Pinot Noir, it still wasn’t bad. And this Careener was amazing. The red-violet color of this wine gave way to the taste of blackberries and tobacco. We got a little oak and vanilla as well. A nice finish with this wine. | Reg. $18.99; Club price – $14.99

Ricardo Santos Malbec – When James Suckling gives your wine 90 points, you must be doing something right. This Malbec was deep in purple and the nose gave off flavors of dark cherries and chocolate and also came across as pretty earthy. It had a lot of weight to it, but ended pretty silky.  | Reg. $21.99; Class price – $17.99

Maquis Lien – Our last wine of the night was a blend of Carmenere, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. These grapes grown on a terrace above the Tinguiririca River, and smells very earthy. We got some dark fruits, bell pepper and very high tannins in the back. Nice and balanced wine as it opened up in our glasses. | Reg. $37.99; Class price – $27.99

If you haven’t been to a Wine & Beer 101 wine class, you really need to. They know what they’re doing! Upcoming wine classes:

  • June 19: Napa Valley and Biale Vineyard Class

  • July 17: Piedmont Region of Italy

  • Aug. 9: Honig Wine Lab