As much as I love the charm of March’s raw, 40-degree weather in New York City, it’s time to hit the road again. I’m off to South America where I’ll be covering a lot of ground as I visit a number of wineries in both Chile and Argentina. It’s harvesttime down there right now, and early reports are that it’s warm and dry in Chile, but a bit more problematic in Argentina.
This will be my second visit to both countries, where a lot has changed since the first time I was there just a few years ago. New wine areas have begun to emerge—coastal spots such as Limarí, Leyda and Marchigüe in Chile, along with the tantalizing prospects of planting vines on the virgin soils of Argentina’s Patagonia region.
For the latest on both the regions, you can reference my most recent tasting report on Argentina in the Dec. 15, 2007, issue, where I discuss the continued dominance of the Malbec grape, while at the same time wondering if what has become Argentina’s strength might also be its weakness: Does more Malbec mean less diversity?
My next report on Chile will be in the upcoming May 15, 2008, issue. With the top reds from the strong 2005 vintage now starting to hit retail shelves, and with increasing quality in whites and a burgeoning set of value-priced wines, Chile is starting to make some noise again.
This trip is a bit different in focus than my regular trips to the Rhône. Because Rhône wines are available in the marketplace en primeur, it’s necessary to go there regularly, taste from barrel and report back to my readers. (Yes, I must, every year. If not twice!)
For regions like Chile and Argentina however, while exports and consumer interest are up, there is less of a scramble to buy the top wines. There’s no en primeur campaign to stay ahead of. Instead, change in these still-emerging regions typically happens on the ground, meaning in the vineyards. New viticultural areas, new varieties, new clones and more are the tools of change. And the results of those changes don’t show up on the retail shelf for several years before they're determined to be a success or failure.
So when I go down there, rather than sit in a hotel room and taste hundreds of wines (that’s what the office in New York is for) I’ll be mostly kicking the dirt in the vineyards as I meet with both new and recognizable faces. I’ll be trying to "unearth," if you will, what will be coming to your retailer sometime down the road.
I’ll be blogging as regularly as logistics allow, so check back here over the following two and a half weeks. The occasional vlog and photo should work their way onto these pages as well. And hopefully by the time I get back, March will be in its "lamb" phase around here ...
Dale Rouse — March 12, 2008 6:18pm ET
James Molesworth — March 13, 2008 8:43am ET
Jessica Engel — Bethlehem, PA, USA — March 13, 2008 11:32pm ET
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions