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Wine Friends Travels South

Proud dad moment: My daughter Evie (in the air) catching catching the ball at a recent rugby tournament. Evie and Bea play for the local Lady Marin Highlanders team.

Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile. What do they all have in common? You guessed it! They are all competing right now in the Rugby World Cup :-) Over the past few weeks, my daughters and I have spent an unprecedented amount of time watching the latest matches together. This is a new occurrence in my household, ever since -- with no pressure from me (honestly!) -- my two daughters have become avid rugby players, spending weekends playing against women's high school teams up and down the state.

Rugby aside, they also all produce some incredible wines. In the last decade we have seen Chile become world-class at Cabernet blends, Argentinian Malbecs just getting better and better, and some exciting wines coming out of Uruguay, where young and old winemakers are really finding their stride, especially with Tannat, a red varietal that came from the South of France.

This week, Wine Friends is excited to showcase some wines from these regions that truly blew us away. Not only are they delicious, but the value is unbeatable. These are small-scale producers -- it's not the usual imports you'll find on the shelves of your local market-- and quantities are limited. We're pretty sure once you try them, you'll be as excited as we are and it's going to be hard to keep them in stock. Grab some while you can!


This wine is seriously impressive. Made from the Tannat grape, which was introduced to Uruguay in 1870 by Basque immigrants. The grape suits the climate and terroir of Uruguay very well, and as such has become Uruguay’s most widely planted grape. Viña Progresso is the winemaking project of 4th generation winemaker, Gabriel Pisano, who was born in the vineyard and inherited the winemaking bug. Under his Progresso project, which lies just north of Montevideo in the Progresso region, he produces experimental wines using biodynamic farming methods and a variety of grapes, from Tannat to Viognier and Sangiovese. This is a powerful wine of great structure. Blackberry, bramble, pine forest and smoke jumps out of the glass and gives way to a balanced palate with ripe, integrated tannins. Delicious stuff, especially when paired with "Asado" -- food, especially meats, prepared over the grill.


Over to Argentina we go, where we find this incredible Malbec. Jesus Bianchetti named his estate ‘Bueyes’, after the oxen that used to work this land in the Uco Valley in Mendoza, Argentina. Bianchetti inherited the land from his grandfather, who emigrated to Argentina and eventually began cultivating vineyards using oxen to plow the soils. This wine really impressed us. The vineyards lie at higher elevation, which gives the wine a freshness, and crisp acidity to complement the ripe fruit. Deep notes of licorice, chocolate, and mulberries make this the perfect companion for grilled steaks and any red meat dishes. A fascinating wine full of layers and incredibly appealing fruit aromas. One you just have to try!


A reminder of this outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile! Powerful, while at the same time boasting wonderful freshness. The wine is full of delectably ripe fruit notes, perfect balance and a depth that is hard to describe. Complex, elegant, powerful and showing a finish that keeps on going. We sipped this wine over four days and it kept getting better and better. We still can't get over the price tag, which just shows what incredible value there is to be had in Chile.

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