The question came up repeatedly as I prepared to make the biggest trip of my life.
Better wine: Chile or Argentina?
I asked anyone I could find who had been to both places or were wine lovers like myself, and the responses were split right down the middle, plus one iconoclastic friend who picked Croatia.
I was looking forward to finding out for myself.
I'll start here because this is where I started my trip, in Buenos Aires to be specific, but I was thinking about Mendoza the whole time.
The name has been on so many of the bottles of wine I have bought, and I had read how beautiful this part of Argentina was too.
I loved the crisp air, the fall foliage, and the snow-covered mountains, and after taking all that in for a day, I was ready to head south to Maipú, to rent a bicycle and do some wine tours. I ended up doing a half-dozen of them.
My first stop was CarinaE. Starting here turned out to be a big mistake. It was the best bodega of the day, and nothing else came close.
Here I took a tour, then got to the part I like the most, tasting the wine. I tried the Merlot, the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Malbec, and a cab/Malbec blend. The latter was by far my favorite.
I went to five more vineyards that day, the ones you've read about in Dave's post and another that I cannot remember, probably because I had already fallen in love with CarinaE.
By the third stop, at Filosofos, when our host was telling us about the wine, about its flavor, its texture, I started to think, “Yeah, yeah, just gimme a glass and pour it already.”
At my fourth stop, Lagarde, the host was in even more of a hurry to pour the wine than I was to drink it. I thought, “Geez, at least act like you like being here.”
As I made the wobbly ride back to the bike rental shop, I kept thinking about CarinaE. But I still had half a mission, to find out which country has the better wine: Chile or Argentina?
I was in Santiago almost a week, but I had only a couple of days for wine tours. I was already familiar with two wines from Chile, Casillero del Diablo and Ritual, the latter of which was not offered as a tour at my hostel.
I decided to go with Undurraga, following a recommendation from my friend Joan. It was a good recommendation.
The tour was thorough, explaining the history of the bodega, the cultivation process, and, of course, the tasting.
I've always been a big fan of Pinot Noir, and naturally, enjoyed the sample included in the tour. I believe a Carmenere and Merlot were part of the tasting as well, along with a dessert wine, a sweet white.
I picked up a bottle of the Pinot and the dessert wine, which I shared with my parents on my mom's 70th birthday party last year during their visit to Medellín.
But the Pinot was the best. It's part of the TH series, and I waited two years to drink it, definitely worth the wait.
Carinae Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec blend vs. Undurraga Pinot Noir.
It could only be those.
I'm not sure I'm ready to say Argentine wine is better, only that I like CarinaE's Cabernet/Malbec blend the best, partly because they sell it only at the bodega.
Normally I order Pinot Noir if I'm at a restaurant.
So I guess my answer is:
I'll take Argentina if I want a Malbec. I'll go with Chile if I want a Pinot Noir.
To the wine fans reading, what's your preference, Chilean or Argentinean?