Sample South America's Palatable Wines

Physician's Money Digest, October31 2004, Volume 11, Issue 20

Wine valleys from Chile's PacificCoast to the foothills of theAndes in Argentina were visitedby our Medical Friends Tour Group,which is made up of wine aficionados.

All in the Family

Seventy miles south of Santiago, thesurprisingly modern capital of Chile,Vinedos Torrejon de Paredes boasts theDon Amado, a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend made from the winery'sfinest grapes. This elegent wine is namedin honor of the winery's founder, who, atage 73, switched from manufacturingbuses to making premium wines. Two ofhis sons left their professions to join him,and one of them was our host.

From lovely nose to lingering finish,the Don Amado is a finely crafted wine. Ithas soft tannins; ample fruit and acidity;and good depth, complexity, and balance.Violating my own personal rule, Ibrought a bottle back home with me.

To the north, the Errazuriz Estate isan oasis that climbs the slopes of theAconcagua Valley—not far from wherethe highway begins its ascent across theAndes in the direction of Argentina. ThisErrazuriz winery makes an interestingCabernet/Merlot blend, which also honorsits founder, Don Maximiano.

Friendly rivalary:

Both the berry-like nose and aftertasteof the 1999 are exotically spicy andfruity ("quite different,"according tomy tasting notes). The mouth feel ismedium, and the finish is prolonged.Like the Don Amado, the well-integratedDon Maximiano contributes toChile's reputation as a quality wine producer.It's rivaled by theErrazuriz Sena 2000, which adds 8%carmenere to the Cabernet/Merlot blend.

Tastes of Argentina

An overnight stay in the pass amongthe highest peaks in the Western Hemispherewas awesome. The lively city ofMendoza, Argentina, became our nextheadquarters. Here we were introducedto the Spanish varietals Torrontes andTempranillo and French Malbec.

The Malbec 2002 at Dolium was ourfavorite example. A dark, powerful, andintensely fruity wine, it exemplifies thehard work of engineer Mario Giadorou,who created South America's first energy-conservingunderground winery.

Other outstanding Argentine winesinclude the Familia Zuccardi's TempranilloQ 2000, a prize-winning wine thatrivals the best Spanish Tempranillos,and the Catena Alta Chardonnay 2000,which is produced by Bodega CatenaZapata. The 2000 Chardonnay well deservesits 93 Parker rating. Unfortunately,the best South American winesare no longer bargain priced.

an internist and

professor of medicine at the

University of California at San

Francisco, has been published in the

Wall Street Journal, Diversion,

Medical Economics, and Internal

Medicine World Report.

Philip R. Alper,