E Wine of the Week

E Wine of the Week
By Bruce Cochran

Patagonia’s strong winds make for good grapes
Hello Everyone,
This week we’ll discover a wine region that is completely new for many of us, something that doesn’t happen often enough. But, as with many topics in the wine world, we’ll see some aspects of this exciting new region that are familiar to us.
Try a new wine this week!
Saurus Wines
Chile and Argentina are neighbors on the same continent, but after that the similarities end quickly. You can see the differences on restaurant menus, with more seafood and more international influences in Chile, not to mention vestiges of the original peoples’ food, and more beef and Italian dishes in Argentina.
In addition to the cultural differences, there are climatic differences that are reflected in the two countries’ wines. Most Chilean vineyards lie near the Pacific Ocean, which moderates the climate much like it does in California. Most Chilean wines are made about the same distance south of the equator as California wines are north of it.
Most Argentine vineyards lie on the dry, inland side of the Andes around Mendoza, a virtual desert, with hot, dry days and cool nights. This is more reminiscent of Washington state’s Columbia Valley than of California. One trend in recent years is to establish vineyards at higher elevations in the Andean foothills. Growers hope that pinot noir will succeed in the cooler temperatures there, a sign of today’s smaller wine world and the flow of information about what’s popular in the global marketplace.
Both Chile and Argentina have wine regions that are a little separate from most others, with unique styles. Chile’s Aconcagua Valley, beneath the glacier atop the Andes’ highest peak, is that country’s only wine region north of the capital (Santiago), and wines there reflect more of a New Zealand, or perhaps Pacific Rim style.
In Argentina, Patagonia is the new place. Located far south of Mendoza, meaning cooler weather, this area is known for strong winds. That’s actually good for grapes, keeping them dry and preventing many maladies that can plague growers in more humid regions.
Familia Schroeder is one of Patagonia’s top winemaking families. Their Saurus brand represents the area well. It’s named for a large dinosaur fossil found on the property, but represents something new in Argentina. For a higher price there’s Saurus Patagonia Select, but for very good, well-made, everyday wine at a good price, I like the regular Saurus line. Its style may very well remind you of a wine from California.
Saurus Malbec is perhaps the first one to try, since that’s really the first grape we think of when we think of Argentina. Remember, though, that Patagonia’s climate is not like Mendoza’s, and there’s a lot more to try than Malbec. Cabernet sauvignon, merlot and pinot noir are also grown. Saurus wines retail locally for around $15 a bottle.

Categories: Legacy Archive