Both originally blending grapes from the Bordeaux region in France, Carmenere of Chile and Malbec of Argentina have become flagship wines of South America.
On Thursday 29 May, Michael hosted "The Stars of South America" exploration event in a public tasting for 15 people. This was an ALL RED affair -- featuring four Carmeneres from Chile versus four Malbecs from Argentina.
Chile and Argentina have been making wine as far back as 1550 when Spanish conquistors and missionaries settled in the area. Argentina is now the 5th largest wine producer and Chile is 8th largest. They reverse the trend in exporting with Chile as the 5th largest wine exporter (behind Italy, France, Spain, and Australia) and Argentina is 8th largest.
Chilean Carmenere are deeply coloured, meaty, plump and herbaceous. Carmenere has softer tannin's than Cabernet and often show red fruits, berries, cherry alongside earthy and smoky characters with dark chocolate, tobacco and leather.
Malbec was introduced into Argentina in the 1850's -- with early focus on volume rather than quality. Since the 1990's that trend has changed and Malbec was made into Argentina's national grape. Argentine Malbec produces rich, ripe, juicy and fruit forward wines - very different than the French equivalents which are more meaty, rustic and tannic.
When grown at altitude (foothills of the Andes), the grape develops thicker skin and deeper concentration of flavour producing more aromatic characters and vibrant colour. At lower altitudes, the skins are thinner producing softer and more supple fruit for more mass produced reds.
The tasting platter was very traditional- a spiced vegetarian paella, slow cooked pulled pork with a tangy barbeque sauce, mild choritzo sausage, prime beef fillet with a green chimichurri sauce, dark chocolate and fresh bread.
Below are the wines tasted on the night, click on each link to see more detail of the wines: