Wednesday Wines – Episode 192 – A stunning South American pair

I used to taste many more wines from Chile and Argentina, not least because they helped populate my annual guidebooks and Daily Mail column. I have never visited South America, and given my annual travel schedule to keep up with my existing yearly reports, there is little to no time left for further expeditions.  But this does not mean that I pass up the chance to have a forensic look at some of the leading players.  This week, I have a pair of exemplary wines to recommend in my last Wednesday Wines column of the year. They are widely available, superbly well-priced and as good as any I have tasted from these countries this year.

2021 Zuccardi, Q Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina (£16.99, reduced to £12.99 each in a Mix Six Deal,

My Argentinean discovery is this excellent Malbec, which draws on fruit from two vineyards that sit over a kilometre above sea level. Fermentation occurs in concrete vessels and ageing in concrete and used 500L French oak casks. With simple fermentation and ageing, the pure grapes have produced a wine of uncommon freshness, polish, and terrific momentum on the palate. I find that most Argentinean Malbecs are either too bulky and intense and/or too oaky. This wine is refreshing, summer-pudding-scented, violet-hued and velvety. It is pristinely clean and vibrant and, like its cousin below, is a tremendous bargain.  18/20 (Drink now – 2025)

2020 Errázuriz, Max Carmenère, Aconcagua Valley, Chile (£13.00, Tesco).

The Carmenère grape has never truly hit the high notes for me. It often feels like it hovers below both Cabernet and Merlot in varietal impact, and yet a handful, over the years, have offered a unique stance on the nose and palate and brought a sense of completeness to the fore. ’20 Max is such a wine, with gorgeous buoyant fruit and a lovely lick of 25% new oak, which brings lustre and spice, and the overall balance is exquisite.  The length of flavour is not dissimilar to that of a grand vin, and it reminds me of some of the great Errázuriz wines that burst onto the scene twenty or so years ago. Consider its £13 price tag, and you have yourself an absolute bargain. I am immensely impressed with this stunning red wine.  18/20 (Drink now – 2026)