This is Hispanic Heritage Month, a good time to enjoy the very good wines produced in Argentina and Chile. Although both countries make great and expensive wines, they make a lot of very nice affordable reds and whites. And that is cause enough to celebrate.
Argentina is well-known for its reds, especially those made from the malbec grape, which flourishes on the eastern edge of the Andes. Affordable malbecs that deserve our attention include Alamos Malbec, Bodega Septima Malbec and Bodega Luigi Bosca Malbec.
I also like Bodega Norton Reserva Malbec, Alamos Malbec Seleccion and Vina Dona Paula Lujan de Cuyo Malbec.
If your preference is cabernet, opt for Bodega Norton Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon and, if you prefer something in white, you'll like Bodega Colome Torrontes, an easy-to-like wine produced from a grape that yields Argentina's best whites.
Unlike its neighbor, Chile is noted equally for reds and whites, and some of the very best and high priced, like Almaviva, can compete with the world's finest. But for the budget conscious, Chile produces a wide variety of lower priced, quality wines.
Some favorite reds include Vina Santa Ema Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Reserva Privada (a blend of cabernet and syrah), Veramonte Reserve Pinot Noir (produced in Chile's Casablanca Valley) and Vina Cono Sur Carmenere.
Chile's best whites are made from chardonnay or sauvignon blanc, and the winemakers excel with both grapes. Affordable options include Veramonte Reserve Chardonnay, Vina Santa Rita Chardonnay and Casa Lapostolle Chardonnay, as well as Vina Montes Sauvignon Blanc, Montgras Reserva Sauvignon Blanc and Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc.
Serve with: Malbec reds are a great choice with grilled meats, including burgers, ribs and steaks. Both countries' cabs complement roast beef, meatloaf and beef stew. The Chilean pinot and carmenere go well with leg of lamb, lamb stew and even grilled cheese sandwiches.
The white Torrontes is a nice sipping wine that also pairs well with seafood, as do the chardonnays and sauvignon blancs from Chile.
Availability/suggested retail: Sold in food markets and wine shops, the malbecs from Alamos, Septima and Luigi Bosca are priced $10 to $11; the special selections from Norton, Alamos and Vina Dona Paula retail for $15 to $18; the Norton cab, $18; and the Torrontes for $15.
The Chilean cabs are $14 to $17; the pinot and carmenere are $17 each; the chardonnays are priced $9 to $14; and the sauvignon blancs range from $12 to $16.
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