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Premium South American red blends: Panel tasting results

The judges found impressive longevity among Chile’s top Cabernet blends, and finesse and energy in many of the Argentinian Malbec-based wines, finds Dirceu Vianna Junior MW...

Paz Levinson, Peter Richards MW and Dircau Vianna Junior MW tasted 95 South American red blends, with 4 Outstanding and 46 Highly Recommended.

Entry criteria: Producers and UK agents were invited to submit their latest-release, super-premium red blends with availability in the UK or US markets.

Scroll down to see the tasting notes & scores

The verdict

Considering that all the wines in this tasting were at a super-premium level, the judges were justifiably expecting something special. The strike-rate was impressive, with more than half rated Outstanding or Highly Recommended. Overall there was an admirable degree of consistency, and there was plenty to get excited about.

Top South American red blends from the panel tasting:

See all 95 wines from this panel tasting

Argentina: know your vintages

2018 An excellent vintage: warm, sunny days and cool nights ensured perfect ripening.

2017 Forward, exuberant and harmonious reds despite the long, hot summer.

2016 One of the coldest vintages in a decade, resulting in lighter wines with notably crisp acidity.

2015 A long harvest yielding attractive, juicy reds – especially fresh and vibrant for those who picked early.

2014 Low-yielding harvest and wines with assertive acidity that are ageing well.

2013 A notoriously cool vintage. The top-end wines are ageing gracefully.

2012 Low-yielding harvest due to frost. Those who escaped made ripe, juicy, concentrated reds.

Argentina wine grape plantings

Total cultivated area 220,848ha

Malbec 42,999ha

Cabernet Sauvignon 14,666ha

Syrah 12,247ha

Merlot 5,306ha

Cabernet Franc 1,146ha

Petit Verdot 652ha

Source: INV-Database

Chile: know your vintages

2018 Favourable conditions, with moderate temperatures resulting in a promising vintage of harmonious reds.

2017 Abnormally hot vintage including severe wild fires. Despite an early harvest, the wines are marred by the heat.

2016 An excellent vintage, especially for those who opted to pick early.

2015 Noticeably warm vintage yielded ripe, exuberant and succulent reds.

2014 The season started with a frost and finished warm and sunny, resulting in generally good-quality reds.

2013 One of the coolest vintages in recent memory, giving long-lived, sophisticated reds.

2012 A challenging, warm vintage, abnormally humid. Most wines should be drunk now.

Chile wine grape plantings

Total cultivated area 137,375ha

Cabernet Sauvignon 41,156ha

Merlot 11,703ha;

Carmenère 10,250ha

Syrah 7,738ha

Malbec 2,249ha

Cabernet Franc 1,578ha

Petit Verdot 863ha

Source: Wines of Chile

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