Our instructor, Lynn Coulthard, started our wine tour of South America with a sparkling Torrontés, a cool region wine from Patagonia in the south of Argentina. The sweet sparkling wine, akin to Asti Spumanti, was priced at $26 and good value.
The next white we tasted came from Chile, a ‘T.H’ Sauvignon Blanc. This was very aromatic to the nose, but I found the flavour a bit ‘viny’, like chewing on the stem of the grapes. Our instructor Lynn described it as crisp and clean, and suggested it would go well with delicate foods such as poached sole.
We also tasted two Argentinean whites, a non-sparkling Torrontés from the high altitude wineries in Salta, and a Chardonnay from the famous wine region of Mendoza.
The non-sparkling ‘Colmes’ Torrontés came from Salta in the northwest of Argentina, and as the label said, was a ‘vino blanco de gran altura‘ (high-altitude white wine). It was supposed to have ‘rose petal’ aroma, but I’m afraid the ‘nose’ reminded me of rose-petal dish soap. The best part of this wine is that it was from Salta, such a beautiful area that everyone should see it, and there’s lots of wine-tasting in nearby towns as well.
The Luca Chardonnay was from the famous wine region of Mendoza in Argentina. This was a lovely wine, well balanced with overtones of butterscotch and a lingering flavour. At $44, a bit pricy for me, but damn good!
From Uruguay came a Tannant, that country’s signature grape. It’s a rough red wine with lots of tannin, and needs aging and some good food pairing to really be appreciated. This is NOT a sipping wine.
For fun we did two sets of blind tastings. While our instructor Lynn read us the descriptions of each wine, we sniffed and tasted and tried to guess which was which. The first pair were both Chilean, a Syrah and a Carmenère, the signature grape of Chile. For many years the Carmenére grape was mistakenly identified as a Merlot until genetic testing determined otherwise.
The next pair we compared were a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon and a Malbec from Argentina.
Lynn then introduced an interesting experiment in blending. We were to come up with a blend of the Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. I chose to add a small amount of the Cab to my Malbec, about 1 part Cab to 3 parts Malbec, and to my surprise I liked it even better than the plain Malbec, which had been my favourite wine of the evening.
She then brought out the killer wine of the evening – a blend to end all blends: Andeluna ‘Grand Reserve’ Pasionado 2005 from Mendoza, Argentina. Yes, it managed to even top my impressive blend! At $66 a bottle, this is a wine worthy of a major celebration. Great class!