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South American Tasting 23 September 2019


I joined forces with @MalcolmV at this tasting, and somehow managed to go home with his notes instead of mine. Sorry Malcolm. so the notes below are mainly his.

Overall a slightly disappointing tasting. No Susanna Balbo wines and no Torrontes, in fact the white showing was a bit thin. The Malbecs were rather one dimensional.

Please forgive but neither of us appear to have tasted any Sauvignon Blancs

heavily oaked, any minerality masked and therefore much too young. TWS notes say drink now to 2024. I’d certainly leave this one at least a year.

the Tabali wines were generally well liked. this one comes from a high limestone terrace. good minerality. I much preferred this to the Exhibition bottling.

grown at an astonishing 1600m, this was both @MalcolmV and my white of the night. lovely mouthfeel, with balanced acidity. it was not a typical Viognier, with the apricot fruits hidden behind the minerality. clean and refreshing. yum

@MalcolmV score this 3.5 while i gave it 4+. his notes . lovely nose, intense ripe peach and rose. dry, linear and good acidity, clean not clinging. I thought it was good value

strange riesling, virtually no riesling characteristics, some nice fruit but just not quite right.

@MalcolmV did not go much on this. he is South African and this was nothing like a SA chenin. i thought it light and refreshing, but the expected honey back note was quite muted. 3+

red notes to follow


I agree with almost all of these (slightly doubtful on the viognier). The Tabali Chardonnay was one of my wines of the night (other was the Pisano grand reserve: I’ll be interested to see your red notes), and the Exhibition chardonnay, disappointing. The Matatetic Gewurztraminer was impressive. (They have a sweet mainly gewurz blend, available at the winery.)
I also agree that it was surprising not to see more Argentine: it was really a Chile tasting with 10 Argentine and 2 Uruguayan.


Thanks @Kent_wino. Brilliant job reading my handwriting.


Red wines (varietals)

Pinot Noir

TWS website notes are pretty near the mark. ‘Fresh , intensely aromatic pinot from a cool coastal vineyard in Chile. This is satisfyingly ripe and silky textured.’ The nose is fabulous, however the acid levels are very high. Give this one another year or 2 in the bottle and it should be much better

Fruity rather jammy nose, which hid a structured, savoury saline palate with great length. If only this had had the Koyle’s nose, we might have swooned.


The most fascinating wine of the night. Green peppers on the nose, then plums and cedar. Complex, long, a food wine. 4.5* and will improve. Ridiculously heavy bottle ! Apparently small percentages of cab sauv and cab franc in the blend


slightly disappointed with this exhibition offering. Very smooth, good fruit, but rather simple, with none of that rustic, wild carmenere character that makes this grape so much better than merlot.

From the same producer as the Exhibition bottling, this was much better. More character and structure. A very good wine 4*

4*+ - Of the 3 Carmeneres on show, I thought this the best, and judging by comments at the table, others agreed. Showing more of the slightly funk style that I expect, marginally ahead of the dearer Koyle. My co-drinkers notes say ‘mulberry and cigar box, violets and allspice’. Excellent value

Carignan – just 1 pure carignan tasted

Well balanced, savoury with a touch of spice. An excellent example and great value

Cabernet Sauvignon

Loved all the Mendel wines. This Cab Sauv was in the classical mold, blackcurrant, mint , light on its feet. 4*+ a close fought battle between this and the Concha Y Toro wine. I preferred this, while @MalcolmV preferred the Concha.

In that unique Weinert bottle aged style. Malcolm’s note, ‘lovely mature cab sauv.’ If you prefer a bit of bottle age this is the one for you.

4.5* and a buy! From Malcolm. ‘lovely black fruit and cedar. Excellent, savoury, goes on and on and on’ A difficult choice between this and the Mendel.

I’m a great fan of Undurraga wines, (some Altazor arriving tomorrow) but despite being a gold medal winner, this failed to excite. Not a classical Cab sauv, more red fruit flavours than black ? a faulty bottle ?


Towards the end of the evening we got to the Mendel table. What a relief , a Malbec that wasn’t over extracted or needed 10 years before it was ready to drink. This one was light and silky, with beautiful mulberry flavours, but still a Malbec, perfect for the claret loving English palate ?

wow £36 a bottle – this had better be good. What a disappointment. A one dimensional blockbuster, might be ready to drink in 5 years time.


Pisano Progreso Tannat – now sadly out of stock

My value wine of the evening. Very approachable, forget the tannic brutes of the past this was a bright, fruity wine with medium tannins and the taste was just so long. A total bargain at £9.50. let’s hope they find some more.

Surprisingly approachable, lovely brambly fruit, very long – 5* best value wine of the night

A step up, more elegant, floral, plums, chalky tannins and very very long. An excellent wine, but not sure about the price tag.

blends to follow very shortly


Mainly agree on the Argentine (and strongly agree on the Tannats: when is TWS going to have a decent selection of Uruguayan wines?), except that I thought the Consulta Malbec was definitely one to keep, my only definite comment was ‘not nearly ready’.

I agree that the ‘real’ Koyle Carmenere was much better than the Exhibition. Not sure about the Tabali Carmenere where my notes are diametrically different from the WS ones: harsh, with little fruit or spice, and not at the level of the other 2. (Different bottle?)

Undurraga Carignan certainly one of the bargains of the evening. And I agree on the Mendels especially the Cab Sauv.


I felt the same about the Undurraga Cab sauv.

All i can say on the Carmenere is that there were 4 or 5 people tasting the Tabali who agreed with my view that it was the best of the 3 (just). So perhaps some bottle variation.

More Tannat please TWS


final instalment
Red Blends and Other Varieties (as per TWS tasting booklet)

Floral, violets, complex. The perfect solution for top quality Malbec?

Malcolm detected some brett on the nose, at least that’s what I think his notes say. Spicy palate and long finish. But for me a little harsh and disjointed, @polly (press tasting) found it ‘hot’, this needs some cellar time.

Totally integrated flavours (c/f Carascal). Malcolm, ‘winner, winner’. Very fine and long, top marks.

Las Piletas Santa Rosa Bonarda – not currently listed

Lovely soft, green pepper ….?

Very Fine, cedar and green peppers, shades of French Cab Franc. Excellent wine

A very good blend, with a little spice from the carignan. 4*, but the similar Undurraga blend was better.

Excellent wine, creme de cassis, violets, very floral, cigar box and spice. Long finish. A 5* wine but at a price.

Malcolm, ‘a lovely fruit bomb’. Fresh and lively, with all the components beautifully integrated. While still quite young, this was my wine of the night. Confirmed by a revisit at the end of the evening. This will get better still. Highly recommended.


Still nothing I’ve tried that really makes me want to buy anything from South America (apart from the odd “natural” old vine carignan from Chile). I do keep trying the odd thing, but am never motivated to try more. Pity, as I am a lifelong hispanist and lived some years there. Pity the wines are (still?) so damn boring!


Have to say @suiko, you aren’t far wrong, although Undurraga, Mendel and Weinert were all showing wines with greater interest. Recent South African tastings were much more exciting.


Are far wrong or aren’t far wrong?