Nothing beats the summer heat than a crisp, chilled white wine, and it’s no secret that Latino wine makers are creating exciting new blends that are both well-priced and delicious. With cool white wines from Latin America and Spain heating up the wine market, we asked expert Pablo Aguilar to reveal the details about the best wallet-friendly white wines priced under $20.
Uruguayan wines are the ones to watch. Although Uruguay has been growing grapes and pressing wines for a century, its wines have yet to fully grasp the attention of wine connoisseurs as Chile and Argentina has done. But that might change soon, says Aguilar, thanks to the vision and enthusiasm of a few families that have created a movement of sophisticated boutique wines with unique and creative blends that begin with their signature “Tannat” grape that’s being used across a variety of wines. Aguilar particularly loves the “Estival” White Blend from winemaker Pablo Fallabrino’s Viñedo de los Vientos, noting the vineyard’s creative use of Gewurztramine, Chardonnay, Moscato and Tannat grapes.
“It’s deliciously silky with expressive notes of passion fruit and peaches, with an intense aromatic floral and spicy character,” notes Aguilar, who recommends pairing this sustainably farmed, medium-body blend (available for under $13 here) with Latin-Asian fusion dishes, watercress salads, or spicy empanadas.
Chile’s innovation is yielding gold. This extraordinary country is ninth place among wine producers internationally and lies in fifth place just after Italy in wine exports. And while Chile is well-known for its production of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc wines, new techniques and experimentation among younger wine makers are yielding wonderful results. Aguilar stocks up on Vermamonte 2010, produced by winemaker Christian Aliaga. It’s a Sauvignon Blanc that boats a lemon-lime fruit flavor with intense peach, citrus and herbs – making it an excellent pairing with summer’s fresh produce served in salads or lightly grilled. Aguilar also recommends serving the pale-yellow wine with raw seafood accompanied with plenty of lemon wedges. With Veramonte’s wide variety of pairings, its $17 price tag makes it an easy choice.
Spain takes the lead. Although Spain’s economy is still uneasy, several Spanish wine makers and their importers are producing younger wines and decreasing prices, making Spanish wines hotter than ever, says Aguilar. “These new wines are fresher than older blends, while maintaining the elegant flavors that made Spanish wine famous,” says Aguilar.
Aguilar also notes that Spain is leading the global market with an explosion of outstanding rosé. “Rosé is the new Spanish red,” notes Aguilar, whose current favorite is Hijos de Crescencia Merino’s “Viña Catajarros” Rosado Cigales. It’s an artisanal, organic wine made by a pair of brothers who pride themselves on their Tempranillo, Garnacha Tinta, Verdejo and Alvillo blend sourced from grapes grown in the North Valladolid region of Spain. The wine, scented with vibrant cranberry and mature red fruit, makes the wine, which retails for $10-$15, a perfect pairing with roasted meats, grilled sausages and classic tapas.
Argentina’s newest star. Everyone’s buzzing about Ricky Martin’s return to Broadway in the classic story of Evita, but the real star this summer may very well be the Torrontes grape. Today, Argentinian winemakers are stressing their production efforts beyond their national grape, the world-famous Malbec, and winemaker Adrian Mayer, of the Terrazas de los Andes vineyard, is helping lead the trend with the production of Terrazas Reserva “Torrontes.” It’s scented with green aromatics and orange blossom, with an excellent acidity that makes it perfect alongside fish and fruit sorbets, says Aguilar. Imported to the U.S. by U.S. Moet Hennessy, this wine retails for just about $17.