Electric and refreshing flavours are cropping up in unlikely pockets of Chile and Argentina, at altitude and near the sea. Patricio Tapia discovers the risks and rewards of viticulture in uncharted territory
Patricio Tapia’s top extreme wines
El Porvenir de Los Andes, Laborum Torrontés, Valles Calchaquíes, Argentina 2011
From 45-year-old vines, this is a voluptuous Torrontés, with white peaches and flowers, and a creamy texture. A great way in to
the variety, this comes from vines grown at almost 1,800m.
Price: £12.52–£15 Good Wine Online, Highbury Vintners, Hispa Merchants, Philglas & Swiggot, Ruta 40
Catena, Adrianna Vineyard Malbec, Gualtallary, Mendoza, Argentina 2010
Packed with generous flavours of ripe red fruit and spices, this is a vibrant, full-bodied, tense Malbec; the vineyard (1,600m, one of the highest in the Uco Valley) delivers intense freshness and crisp acidity in a wine to cellar.
Price: £58–£60 Define Food & Wines, Harrods, Noel Young, Raisin Fine Wine, The Vineyard, Wimbledon Wine Cellars
Zorzal, Terroir Unico Malbec, Gualtallary, Mendoza, Argentina 2011
One of the best and purest examples of Malbec from high- altitude vineyards (1,500m), this refreshing, super- juicy red is so easy to drink that you may quickly find yourself asking for a second bottle.
Price: £11 Barwell & Jones, Coe Vintners
De Martino, Alto Los Toros Syrah, Elqui Valley, Chile 2010
At 2,000m, the sunlight is intense and you may feel that sunny side in this red, filled with black fruit flavours and dense, monumental structure.
Price: £20–£25 Berry Bros & Rudd, Les Caves de Pyrène, Oddbins, Virgin Wines
Tacuil, 33 D Dávalos Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon, Valles Calchaquíes, Argentina 2011
Grown at the impressive altitude of 2,600m, this is monumental. A blend of 80% Malbec and 20% Cabernet, this is concentrated and rustic, but with layers of fruit. Profound and deliciously
Price: N/A UK tacuil.com.ar
Casa Marín, Cipreses Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, San Antonio, Chile 2011
Just 4km from the sea, the cold wind gives flavours of lime and peaches in this electric yet very unctuous Sauvignon; the kind of white to lay down for a decade.
Price: £13–£16 Hedonism Wines, ND John, Noel Young, The Drink Shop
Koyle, Costa Sauvignon Blanc, Colchagua, Chile 2012
Recently planted, the coast of Colchagua Valley can offer whites as refreshing as any other coastal site in Chile, proved here. Rich in limey and flinty flavours, its citric acidity gives a delicious tension and grip. A white for summer nights.
Price: POA Genesis Wines
Ramirana, Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, Huasco, Chile 2012
In the arid Huasco Valley, 800km north of Santiago, and hugging the coast, this is almost saline; its strong mineral flavours, chalk and lime notes meld well in this extra-refreshing Sauvignon for oysters.
Price: £9.99 Gap Wines
Matetic, EQ Syrah, San Antonio, Chile 2010
This was the first coastal, cool-climate red in Chile. The new vintage is a mix of ripe red fruit, exotic spices, round, voluptuous body and crunchy acidity. Ideal with lamb.
Price: £18–£22 Armit, Cambridge Wine Merchants, Harvey Nichols, Hic Wines, Noel Young
Bodega Océano, Mar Malbec, Viedma Patagonia, Argentina 2011
Just 30km from the Atlantic, along the Río Negro river, young and older vines deliver a pure, approachable expression of coastal Malbec; a slightly spicy character framed by flowers and cherry notes in a light-to- medium body.
Price: N/A UK bodegaoceano.com