It's traditional for us to open with "¡Ay, caramba!" when the annual South American special of Decanter (invariably the October edition) is released. Typically an exclamation of surprise - much used by the despicable adversaries of Tintin™ in his Latin American adventures (we'd show a picture of them doing just that ... but we'd be instantly pursued by Belgian copyright lawyers) - it adequately captures our excitement in offering so many of the wines in this month's edtion (probably a record for us).
We never set out to be South American specialists, but we do seem to fare well in that area.
It's not all South America, mind - there's some fine Australia and California. Stick with us below and we'll explain just what there is going.
The wines featured this month in Decanter - and that we list - appear at the foot of this page. The reviews for each wine (where we've been able to show them) appear on each product page.
Some part of our excitement stems from the magazine's main/only panel review. That is, of South American Syrah. In a bit of a coup, we're delighted to offer two - the best-priced two - of the four Outstanding (95-point) wines, one exclusively. Rather than clutter up this very busy page, we've set out a full, separate blog page on the region, the central issues surrounding Syrah there, the review results, the top wines and how to get hold of them (click link or the banner below). Apols for all the detail, but we'd rather you made informed choices - there's even a video tasting. These are two great wines. Don't miss them.
Still here? You didn't head off to look at the Syrahs? You've either already done that, don't like Syrah, are missing out or looking for other things. Of other things, there are many:
In South American White: A New Era - arguably the edition's lead article - there is a re-expose of many of the great whites revered in, or emerging from, South America. Most will not surprise fans of the region.
That the new 2018 vintage of Catena's White Stones Chardonnay (alas all allocations already sold; we offer its brother, the White Bones, from previous vintages) lands 96 points is no suprise. Not at all. A little more unexpected is that it is outpipped, on 97 points, from across the Andes, by Errazuriz's Las Pizarras Chardonnay 2018 (from Aconcagua Costa). As the review points out, this is a truly world-class Chardonnay of the very utmost class (one shudders to think what it might cost if made this well in Burgundy). At £55, it may not seem a giveaway, but we are able to offer this at a market-busting price. It's 98-point Pinot Noir Las Pizarras sibling (2016) is also available from us at a market-busting price.
Elsewhere in the review, and at more everyday price-points, new vintages of old/classic show-stoppers land the major scores: Riccitelli's Old Vines Semillion from Patagonia (94 points), El Esteco's excellent Old Vine Torrontes (93), two superb 92-point, mineral Sauvignon Blancs: one from Vina Leyda (Garuma Vineyard) and the other from Montes's Outer Limits project. Add in the new 2019 vintage of the ever-brilliant Reserva Albarino from Uruguay's Garzon (90 points): we are talking South American whte wine royalty.
There's a fine article (by Marina Gayan MW) on the top red blends of South America: topping the pops (97 points) is Catena's Nicolas (2016: we offer the 2015) and, hot on its heels (95 points) is Zuccardi's Tito (we offer 2017: 2018 is reviewed). The former is one of the world's very finest wines; the latter a pretender to such glory at a mere £27.
We love Cabernet Franc. Never consider it a bridesmaid grape. It's verily the Iron Fist in the Velvet Glove of red wine. Got properly ripe, it makes a superb mono-varietal wine. And South Americal leads the way in doing just that ... as an expert review this month points out. There's superb flavour and outstanding value to be found in the Cab Francs of Andeluna (94 points), Trapiche's El Esteco (their Fincas Notables) vineyards (93 points; we'd tell you that this is particularly fine if you were to ask us), Undurraga and the avant-garde/'out there maaaan' style of Zorzal.
One of the month's very toppest wines shouldn't get left until this late on the page. Decanter have (re)-published their article on South Australia's McLaren Vale that appeared on their Premium service some months ago. Since then, we've managed to secure a dozen cases of Thistledown's Vagabond (Old Vine) Grenache (2018). This 96-pointer is quite outstanding, but, let's be clear, a big (if refreshing) wine. A shrinking violet, this is not. This is another wine not to miss this month. It's joined by SC Pannell's leftfield Touriga-Tempranillo blend; let nobody tell you that these grapes don't thrive outside Iberia.
In Uruguay's Great Ascent, Tim Atkin MW alights on an Exel super-favourite, the Garzon Tannat Reserva, now in its 2018 vintage and attracting a thoroughly deserved 93-point score.
Pinot Noir, anyone? There's a retrospective of the top PNs of DWWA19; we offer the lovely Aconcagua Costa PN 2017 from Errazuriz (a very affordable version of the Las Pizarras mentioned above) and the super-fragrant Schroeder Saurus PN from Nuequen in cool Patagonia.
Finally this hectic month, there's a producer focus on the legendary Stag's Leap of California's Napa Valley. Of the wines under review/taste, we offer the Cask 23, the Fay and a number of famous and highly-rated others.