By Lou Phillips · 

After cold winter days filled with sliding, gliding and sledding, who doesn’t love a rich, spicy red wine to keep the blood flowing? And after a season of spending on holiday gifts and travel, who wouldn’t love a value?


Carménère, Chile’s signature wine. | Lou Phillips

Well, I’ve got a solution for both. Look to the Southern Hemisphere. Since we covered Argentina in detail recently, let’s highlight two countries delivering delicious juice at fair prices, namely, Australia and Chile. These regions are chockfull of vinos that over deliver on value and feature an abundance of reds, perfect for cool-weather quaffing.

 

Australia and Chile are chockfull of vinos
that over deliver on value and feature an abundance
of reds, perfect for cool-weather quaffing.

Even wines from average terroirs in these countries seem to have an extra level of structure and complexity compared to those from other places. Because of their isolation and soil types that discourage vine diseases, they also feature some of the oldest original gnarly vines in the world.

Bold Aussie wines
Let’s start in Australia. Just like the people from Down Under, Aussie wines are bold, full of character and just plain fun. Shiraz is the calling card and even those at the value end are luxuriously full-bodied and deliver dark-berry explosions in your mouth and tummy.

Shiraz by the box from Australia. | Lou Phillips

They also defy the concept of single-vineyard superiority because the most humble and the most expensive tend to be multiregional blends. Yes, this even includes the $1,000-a-bottle Penfolds Grange. Australian winemakers also do a great job of blending Shiraz with Grenache and Mourvèdre (called Mataro there) in their rich and delicious GSM wines.

Warming wines of Chile
We are now off to South America and the warming wines of Chile. At 2,700 miles long and at some points less than 100 miles wide, it is basically one big western coast. The valleys are cooled by Antarctic currents, making for an excellent wine climate. Add in low land and labor costs, as well as the investment in vineyards and wineries by major players from the world over, such as Chateau Mouton Rothschild, and you can see the recipe for success.

In red wines, Cabernet Sauvignon is king, but don’t overlook Chile’s signature Carménère that brings unique earthy-mineral flavor dimensions to the party. The Carménère grape was an integral part of red Bordeaux until vine disease hit in the 1800s and was considered virtually extinct until the 1990s when Chileans discovered that the Merlot they had been growing for centuries was actually Carménère. These wines rock.

Lou Phillips is a Level 3 Advanced Sommelier and his consulting business wineprowest.com assists in the selling, buying and managing wine collections. He may be reached at (775) 544-3435 or lou@wineprowest.com. Visit TheTahoeWeekly.com for more wine columns.

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