While the US is still entrenched in our last days of winter with dormant vineyards, south of the equator countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and Chile have already picked their white varietals and are waiting for the late ripening reds, such as Cabernet, to finish the final step of their evolution.
So why should wine aficionados be interested in countries on the opposite side of the globe? The southern hemisphere offers some stunning varieties that we don’t grow in the US. For example, Argentina's luscious Torrontes is a charming white that would bode well for drinking this summer. Chile's red Carmenere grape makes an interesting addition to a winter's table and comes with a fascinating historical story as the "lost grape of Bordeaux" as an added bonus. Once thought to be extinct, the Carmenere grape was rediscovered not long ago in Chile where it had been mistakenly masquerading as Merlot for a couple of centuries.
Another reason to look to our southern neighbors is that even familiar grape varieties can make dramatically different wines due to differences in terroirs of the hemispheres. For instance, Sauv Blancs from New Zealand serve up a completely different flavor profile that ones from California. The Kiwi’s version is grassy and herbaceous, in contrast to Cali's version which often is citrus (think grapefruit), or tropical fruits from those grown in warmer climates.
Below are my DO NOT MISS wineries of the Southern Hemisphere.
- Catena Zapata
- Zuccardi Family
- Los Maquis