South American wine is so hot right now, and not just because some of the best economical wines are coming out of that continent. Countries like Chile and Argentina have stunning wine countries with rich histories that can rival the countryside and wine folklore coming out of California or France. Perhaps the rustic nature of the back roads of South America, and the rural hard-to-reach locations that many of these wineries are hidden in keep some tourists away from this region, but that shouldn’t deter consumers from indulging in the South American wines that make their way to local store shelves.
I’ve made no secret in some of my Vino columns, and perhaps even posts on this blog, that one of my favorite labels out of Chile is Concha y Toro. The latest wines I’ve tried from this portfolio certainly do not give me reason to go back on this comment. The Serie Riberas (Riverbank Series) has a couple perfect Gran Reserva options for red and white wine-os alike, all for the affordable price point of about $17 retail each.
Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Cabernet Sauvignon, 2016
From the famed Colchagua Valley of Chile, this Cabernet Sauvignon is a dark and dreamy Cabernet. With heavy black cherry and blackberry notes on the nose, you’ll also notice a hint of black pepper that is reminiscent of Chile’s other famous big red, Carménère. But this wine is 93% Cabernet, with 3.5% each of Merlot and Syrah for some extra weight. Smooth on the palate, soft tannins hold their own but don’t overpower as the wine takes its time on the finish in your mouth. Between the solid structure of this Cabernet and its deep, dark, peppery berry secrets, I would recommend pairing with a piece of beef, pork, or even lamb that shares some of the same flavors and characteristics. Add some pepper, and use that spiced, ripened cherry sauce as an accompaniment.
Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Chardonnay, 2016
Chardonnay lovers be warned! You may never fall in love with another Chardonnay again after a taste of this oaked blonde beauty. A 100% Chardonnay, also from the Colchagua Valley, this wine is the perfect combination of old world minerality, and the tropical fruit of your favorite California Chard. Aged 10 months in French Oak, and high in alcohol (14.3%), but you’ll find balance in all aspects of this wine. Creamy and complex, just as a food-pairing Chard should be. Try this bottle with your next seafood smothered-in-cream sauce dinner.