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1996 vintage guide for Red South America

South America 1996: Keep

Weather Conditions

Climatically we are still in the same situation. It is the vineyard and winery changes that lead the way. Steam is now widely available instead of hot water, and stainless steel technology is fully underway, as is the use of selected yeasts and greater care in vineyard training in Chile.

Best Appellations

It is not really possible to pinpoint precise regional differences mainly because fruit from all Chilean regions arrives by lorry at wineries throughout Chile. The success of Casablanca as a white grape producing region has led to experiments with cold weather red varietals, such as Pinot Noir. The big news is that Carmenère is accepted as being Chile’s unique contribution to match Uruguay‘s Tannat and Argentina’s Malbec.

Best Producers

It is certainly worth tracking down wines made by Aurelio Montes. The collaboration of Mondavi with the Chadwick family will lead to great things in the Seña project. Lurton and Cousiño Macul aim for a mature style with the Finis Terrae project. Rothschild works on its own premium wines and looks set to produce great, if hardly precocious, wines. In Uruguay, rival wineries fight it out, with Carrau coming out as the favourite. Some fine Tannat is produced in Canelones region, with Stagniari’s old-style Tannat worthy of attention. Catena wines dominate Argentina. Not only is the Catena Alta Chardonnay a stunning wine, the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Malbec are real powerhouses. Norton wines begin to show the value of Swarowski’s massive investment. Humberto Canale in Patagonia is just about able to attract attention, and in Salta, the Cabernet Sauvignon-Tannat blend of Arnaldo B Etchart is proving attractive to those who like a mature style.

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