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South American Wines
Discovering 'New Wines' with a Long History

The New World wines of South America are winning awards in the traditional wine market. It shouldn't come as a surprise.

The grape vines of Chile and Argentina were planted by missionaries who came from Spain with the conquistadors in the mid-sixteenth century. Vineyards were planted in 1551 and the first records of wines being produced in Chile are from 1555.

As the country's population expanded, the wine production moved from the church to European plantation owners. Wine production was so successful by the early 1800s that the New World wines imported to the Old World began to affect the Spanish wineries. The Spanish government took action to protect the wine industry in Spain. All across Mexico and South America vineyards were uprooted and heavy taxes were placed on those remaining. This all but destroyed the wine industry in Mexico, but Chile and Argentina continued to produce wines commercially.

The Santiago winery of Concha y Toro was founded in 1883. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc y Semillón wines produced there are currently exported to 70 countries. Many other labels from Chile are making an impression on the international wine scene. Walnut Crest, Viña Cousiño Macul, Viña Errázuriz, Viña Undurraga, Viña Santa Carolina, Tarrapaca, Miquel Torres and Santa Rita are just a few of the larger winery names. There are dozens of smaller boutique wineries in Chile that export their wines.

In Chile almost half of all the grapes planted are Cabernet Sauvignon, but other reds as well as whites are grown there. The best red wines are from the Maipo and Colchaqua valleys. The Casablanca valley is known for its white wines. Fine wines from Riesling, Semillón, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Pinot Noir, Carmenère, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Verdot, Viogner, Gewürztraminer,Chenin Blanc are all well represented in the wines exported from Chile.

Chile is such a good climate for grape vines that well known, international labels such as Spain's Miguel Torres, France's Baron de Rothschild and Chateau Lafite, and the U.S.' Robert Mondavi have established relationships with Chilean vineyards. The Almaviva winery is a cooperative operation pairing Concha y Toro with the house of Baron Philippe de Rothschild. The wine that is produced is the only Chilean wine that is allowed to be sold on the Bordeaux wine market in France!

The Malbec from the Mendoza area is Argentina's best known wine. Although many will argue that Malbec is Argentina's finest grape varietal, other reds and whites are being successfully introduced. The wines of Argentina began at a disadvantage in the international world of wines. Although Argentina is the 5th largest wine producer in the world, most of the wines were made to be consumed in the country. Argentinean wine did not match the tastes of wine experts who favored European wines. This is no longer true...

The winemakers of South America have altered their traditional methods to produce wines that are making a very loud noise in the world of wine. One review of Argentina's Catena Alta, Cabernet Sauvignon..."The sheer magnificence of the deep velvet fruit, spice, length and structure in Catena Alta, Cabernet Sauvignon is so seductive as to almost indecent."

If you haven't tried one of the top South American wines, get busy before they start commanding prices comparable to wines from other areas!

More about South American wines around the Web:

Great Wines from South America
The Cold Region Wines

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