That’s a very short life span in wine years. The brand was built on inexpensive, mass-produced wines, as Chile and Argentina both tried to use exports to help their devastated economies.
The first Chilean fine wine exported to the U.S. was Concha y Toro’s Don Melchor Cabernet in 1987. Concha y Toro is much better known for its value lines, but Don Melchor has established the winery as a serious contender in the production of high-quality Bordeaux wines in South America. During the 2000s, the wine never scored below 90 points on Robert Parker’s scale.
Argentina quickly followed suit, and as of last year, surpassed Chile in wine exports to the U.S. The flood of attention, excellent climate and vineyard-friendly conditions attracted the notice of world-class winemakers like Paul Hobbs and Agustin Huneeus, the former CEO of Concha y Toro who fled his native Chile in the 1970s due to political crises. Over the past decade, South American wines have occupied more and more shelf space in the valuewine category, but winemakers like Hobbs and Huneeus are producing high-quality Bordeaux-style wines in the middle and upper tiers now.
right, Luca Beso de Dante is a Malbec-Cabernet blend, shown with its white paper wrapper peeled down at Freeman Liquor Mart.
Luca Beso de Dante is a Malbec-Cabernet blend from Laura Catena, one of Argentina’s premier winemakers. Known for her remarkably balanced wines, Catena here offers cassis, red currant, raspberry, earth, cocoa and smoke in a medium- to full-bodied juicy wine. It’s available at Freeman Liquor Mart, 4401 N. Western.
Clos de los Siete from superstar winemaker Michel Rolland is a shockingly good wine for about $20. The Malbec-heavy blend of five varietals from Mendoza, Argentina, drinks like a far more expensive wine.
“Clos de los Siete is a serious yet affordable wine built for aging,” said Christie Luna, sales product marketing manager for Glazer’s. “It has flavors of cassis, dried black cherries and an earthy backbone.”
A little young, it would benefit from aging, but at $20, it’s also built to open, decant and enjoy now. Fans of earthy, austere Bordeaux most likely will enjoy it even young.
Luigi Bosca, another Argentine winery, is a popular name already in the metro, with three lines (La Linda, Luigi Bosca and Luigi Bosca Reserva) appearing frequently on wine lists and in stores. The Gala line is its middle tier, and the Gala 2 — a blend of Cabernet, Cabernet
and Merlot — is one of the best introductions available to South
American Bordeaux. It’s available by the glass at Bin 73, 7312 N.
Western, and by the bottle at West, 6714 N. Western.
Clos de los Siete is a serious yet affordable wine built for aging.
One of the most widely available
Bordeaux blends in the metro is Montes Alpha M, a Cabernet-heavy blend
from Chile. A big, dense wine with violet, earth, blackberry, blueberry,
leather and spice flavors, M is available at The Coach House, 6437
Avondale Drive; Spirit Shop, 1117 Garver in Norman; and three locations
in Edmond: Boulevard Steakhouse, 505 S. Boulevard; Edmond Wine Shop,
1520 S. Boulevard; and Coffee Creek Wine Shop, 775 W. Covell.
established his reputation with Quintessa, the Napa Valley winery known
for its Bordeaux blend. Returning to Chile, he partnered with Veramonte
to create Primus, a blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Carmenere. The latter
was one of the original Bordeaux grapes, but seldom used after the 19th
century. Huneeus incorporated it into Primus, both as an homage to
old-school Bordeaux and because Carmenere has done remarkably well in
wine, available by the glass at Mahogany Prime Steakhouse, 3241 W.
Memorial, is a classic Bordeaux style, with cassis, blueberry, cinnamon
and earth flavors. It’s a solid steakhouse wine and retails for about
Photo by Mark Hancock