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Wines of South America

Wines of South America: The Essential Guide

Evan Goldstein
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Wines of South America
    Book Description:

    The most comprehensive guide to the wines of the entire continent,Wines of South Americaintroduces readers to the astounding quality and variety of wines that until recently have been enjoyed, for the most part, only locally. Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein leads wine enthusiasts on an exciting geographical journey across ten countries, describing the wines, grapes, and regions of each.Goldstein begins the tour with a continental overview, discussing the arrival of the vine and wine culture, surveying the range of grapes planted and cultivated, and summarizing the development of modernday viticulture and winemaking. He explores the two giants of the continent, Argentina and Chile, in expansive chapters that cover their unique histories, wine regions, wine styles, prominent grapes, and leading producers. Goldstein covers the evolving industries of Brazil and Uruguay and discusses the modern-day activities in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela.Up-to-date maps, several engaging photos, and pertinent statistics support each section, which also feature lively profiles of key individuals and wineries that have influenced the development of the craft. A closing chapter is devoted to food in South America, with specific information on wine country dining and leading chefs and restaurants. The author provides practical advice for travelers, an appendix of available resources for learning more about the wines of each region, and lists of 'top 10' wine recommendations for quick reference.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95875-3
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Maps
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. INTRODUCTION: The Vinos and Vinhas of South America
    (pp. 1-4)

    According to an old South American story, when God finished creating the earth, the angels in charge of shaping the land came to him and said: “We’ve got a lot of mountains, valleys, and rivers left over; what should we do with them?” God answered, “Dump them at the end of the earth.” And that, fortuitously for grape growers and winemakers, is how Chile and Argentina were created.

    My first encounter with South American wine was a revelation. On an October day in the mid-1980s, while I was working at my family’s San Francisco restaurant, Square One, a friendly and...

    (pp. 5-12)

    By any metric, South America is a significant contributor to the global wine market. Although only the world’s fourth-largest continent, South America is the second most important wine-producing continent, after Europe. It embodies a number of geographic and climatic extremes, including the world’s highest waterfall (Angel Falls in Venezuela), the largest river by volume (the Amazon), the longest mountain range (the Andes), and the driest place on earth (the Atacama Desert in Chile). This diverse continent is also home to an amazing range of quality wines. A December 2012 Gallup poll cited seven of the world’s ten most upbeat countries...

    (pp. 13-38)

    Though we tend to assume that grape growing in South America is limited to a handful of varieties, the continent has a vast selection of grapes that reflects the diversity of its settlers and immigration patterns over several centuries. Official sources indicate commercial plantings of 165 different grapes in Argentina, 117 in Brazil, 65 in Uruguay, and over 60 in Chile.

    The origins of these grapes can be traced to Europe: specific cultivars emanate from Spain (including the criolla family of grapes that were first brought over by the conquistadores and early explorers in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries),...

    (pp. 39-108)

    Six years ago, anxiously arriving in Mendoza City for the first time, I asked the driver two questions. First, why were there empty plastic bottles standing on the roofs and hoods of so many cars? Answer: to inform passersby that the cars were for sale. Second, why is Argentina, “land of silver,” called Argentina? Are there significant silver mines? Is it named for Argentina’s enormous river of same name (the Río de la Plata)? Answer: that’s a good question, but there’s no universally accepted response. I replied that it might be appropriate to call the country Viñotina, “land of wine,”...

  9. 4 CHILE
    (pp. 109-178)

    A few years ago the wine critic and Master of Wine Tim Atkin described Chilean wine as the Volvo of the wine industry: dependable, consistent, and mass produced, but not likely, in his words, to “quicken the pulse.” To further his point, he quoted one winemaker as saying, “Chilean wine comes from the checkbook, not the heart.” There may be some truth in these observations, but, to pursue the car metaphor, maybe we should ask whether he has driven a Ford lately. Chilean wine may not yet be a BMW, the ultimate driving machine, but it is making dramatic progress....

  10. 5 BRAZIL
    (pp. 179-206)

    Brazil conjures up a wealth of associations—soccer, beaches, Carnaval, samba, and the beautiful girl from Ipanema. Alas, wine is not on that list. Not much wine from Brazil is exported, and Brazilians themselves are far more likely to drink beer orcachaça.

    Even so, after Argentina, Australia, South Africa, and Chile, Brazil is the fifth-largest Southern Hemisphere wine producer, vinifying some 84.5 million gallons annually. The grape and wine industries are important segments of Brazil’s agricultural economy, employing tens of thousands of families. A typical household involved in viti- or viniculture works about five acres.

    Brazilian wine is divided...

  11. 6 URUGUAY
    (pp. 207-230)

    Uruguay means “land of the painted bird” in the native Guarani language. This diminutive country—covering less than 400 miles north to south and 320 miles from east to west, with an area fifty times smaller than Brazil’s—is home to 450 species of birds, just 50 fewer than are found in the entire Amazon River basin. This biodiversity is echoed by a surprising diversity in wine.

    One of the best-kept secrets in South America, with a national population less than that of the extended San Francisco Bay Area, Uruguay has no car traffic to speak of, a thriving middle...

    (pp. 231-252)

    Though none of the other wine-producing nations of South America can compete with the leading four, they complete the mosaic of the continent’s wine scene and add texture to its offerings. I present them in alphabetical order here.

    Planted acreage: 7,400

    World rank in acreage: 63

    Number of wineries: 77

    Per capita consumption (liters)/world ranking: 2.0/94

    Leading white grapes: Chardonnay, Muscat, Semillon

    Leading red grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Malbec, Merlot, Syrah

    Memorable recent vintages: 2004, 2006, 2010, 2011

    Bolivia is not exactly world renowned for its wine; the agricultural product for which it is best known, the coca leaf, is...

    (pp. 253-260)

    Traveling the wine regions of South America is not like wine tourism in other places. In the Napa Valley or New South Wales, all you really have to do is rent a car, add a GPS or a map, and set out. Taking that approach in South America is a ticket to adventure. Many South American wineries are not on the main roads, and they often don’t have clear addresses or conspicuous signs. More often than, winery locations are given simply as the name of a highway or road, with or without a street number, or the combination of a...

    (pp. 261-264)

    The evolution in the vineyards and wineries of South America’s wine country has not always been matched by progress in wine-country kitchens. Unquestionably, you can find world-class, inventive cuisine in many cities. Lima, for example, is home to one of the world’s most respected celebrity chefs, Gastón Acurio, whose La Mar Cebichería Peruana has branches in Mexico City, Panama City, São Paulo, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. The original restaurant of the Acurio Empire, Astrid y Gastón, has locations in Lima, Santiago, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Quito, Bogotá, Caracas, and Mexico City. In São Paulo, you can delight in the...

    (pp. 265-272)
    (pp. 273-274)
    (pp. 275-276)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 277-302)