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Descorchados – The ultimate guide to South American wine

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The latest edition of Patricio Tapia’s iconic project is now available in digital format

The brainchild of wine writer and expert taster Patricio Tapia, Descorchados has established itself as the ultimate guide to American wines produced south of the Equator. First released in 1999, it covers all of the southern continent’s main producing countries – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Uruguay – representing a comprehensive overview of the wines released in a given vintage. ‘The project was born in 1998 when I was studying oenology in Bordeaux,’ explains Tapia. ‘I realised there really wasn’t a guide that could offer a personal but also unbiased view of the wines of South America.’ And thus Descorchados was born, inspired by classic anglophone counterparts, such as  Hugh Johnston’s Pocket Wine Book.

Labour of love

Each year, for the past quarter of a century, Tapia tastes nearly six thousand wines from more than 600 wineries across South America. ‘It’s not easy but it’s an endeavour that really motivates me and gives me much pleasure. It’s a unique opportunity to, year after year, get a truly panoramic view of the South American wine scene.’ This translates into twenty five years of accumulated knowledge and experience, developed not only through tasting but also through the strong relationships with producers and the deep understanding of the different regions and terroirs. ‘Ultimately, I’ve created Descorchados to open a door to the world of South American wine and to keep that door open for myself and for readers.’

A door that has reopened again with the release of the 2023-2024 edition of Dercorchados, now available for purchase in ebook format (through Amazon, Apple Books and Google Books). A title with a rightful, hard-earned place in any wine library. It compiles a wealth of knowledge but also invites exploration and discovery. Descorchados takes the pulse of the wine scene in South America, recording the progress of eternal classics while also making note of the latest trends, emerging regions and up-and-coming producers.

Evolution and renewal 

Tapia’s yearly achievement has been able to plot the exciting evolution of wine nations which from relative anonymity have firmly established themselves on the international stage. More exposure has also attracted more investment, expertise and the reappreciation of local grapes and terroirs. ‘There’s been a clear evolution towards fresher, lighter wines, with less extraction and a stronger sense of place,’ says Tapia. ‘There’s also been an effort to produce wines that are more food friendly and characterful. On the other hand, the experimentation with different grape varieties and the (re)discovery of different terroirs has also had a big impact on quality and character.’

To better capture the ongoing evolution of the South American wine scene, Descorchados has since expanded its concept and is now also a website where Tapia shares reports, interviews with producers and much much more.

The ethos of Descorchados is one of unpretentious yet knowledgeable exploration of some of the world’s most exciting wines and terroirs, which remain under the radar for many winelovers. For those willing to enter the universe opened by Descorchados, Tapia’s first and foremost recommendation is ‘to taste and be willing to try wines that might not be obvious.’ He lists Albariños from Uruguay, Cariñenas (Carignan) from Chile, high-altitude Malbecs from Argentina, Argentinian Torrontés, sparkling wines from Brazil and wines produced from ‘criolla’ varieties that remain quasi untouched in Peru and Bolivia as some of the many jewels waiting to be

‘South America is a wine universe full of secrets and surprises. It’s well worth discovering them.’

The latest edition of Descorchados is available from Amazon US and Amazon UK

Also available through Google Books and Apple Books


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