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On both sides of the Andes, Viña Santa Carolina Barrica Selection in Chile and Cavia in Mendoza, Argentina release wines that are way above their price range.

by Simone Zarmati Diament

Viña Santa Carolina

chardonnayu15 Founded in 1875 in the outskirts of Santiago, Chile, Viña Santa Carolina is one of the oldest wineries in South America with prime vineyards in the best micro-climates and terroirs in the country.

2003 Viña Santa Carolina Barrica Selection Chardonnay, Casablanca Valley, Chile ($13) This 100% medium-bodied Chardonnay is intensely brilliant and exhibits a fruity nose of melon and tropical fruits. This wine spends seven month in French barrels with batonage of the yeast cells (the wine is stirred in barrel to extract more yeast complexity) which translates on the palate into rich fruit notes of apple, pear, ripe tropical fruit, spice and apricot flavors balanced with subtle hazelnut from the oak and a crisp acidity. This white is complex, clean and elegant and pairs well with green salads, cheeses, white meat and fish and shellfish.

2003 Viña Santa Carolina Barrica Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Chile ($13) Sensational! The grape yields of this rich and full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon are low in the vineyard, resulting in a complex and elegant wine, deep red with ripe berry and black currant on the nose with chocolate and spice enhanced by vanilla notes. The sip is firm, filled with rich red fruit flavor, followed by cool mint and subtle oak, round tannins and a lingering finish. This Cabernet Sauvignon is an elegant and complex wine that may be aged in a cellar for 5 or more years. This wine pairs beautifully with lamb, spicy ragu sauce, pork loin, red meat and aged French cheese.

2003 Viña Santa Carolina Barrica Selection Carmenère, Rapel Valley, Chile (13) has a deep red raspberry color with plum and prune aromas on the nose with hints of violet and sweet spice. This elegant, full-bodied Carmenère is fruity with an incredible silky texture, fine round tannins and a long finish. Pairs with just about every food from pasta and red and white meat dishes to Spanish tapas and aged cheeses.

2003 Viña Santa Carolina Barrica Selection Syrah, Maule Valley, Chile (13) has a deep ruby red color with violet hues. It features complex aromas of blackberry and black currant with chocolate, vanilla and spices. On the palate, this full-bodied Syrah explodes with earthiness, black fruit, soft leather, chocolate and black pepper and strong and velvety tannins. This elegant and well-balanced wine with a lingering finish promises exquisite development in the bottle and may be cellared for 5 years or more. Pair this wine with lamb, spicy sauces, pork tenderloin, red meat and mature French cheeses.


A newcomer to Argentina’s wine list, Antigal, the producer of Cavia, has three vineyards, all located in the Uco Valley in Tupungato on the outskirts of Mendoza. This region with very hot days and cold nights, calcareous soils and scarce water is home to several of Argentina’s most renowned win eries. Here are two new releases that match well with food:

2004 Cavia Reserve Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina ($8.99)
This Malbec exhibits the typical varietal characteristics. The nose is rich with aromas of black and red berries, hints of tobacco and smoke. In the mouth a good backbone of black berries and plums with hints of vanilla and spice develops into a smooth texture with mild acidity and tannins. Cavia Malbec Reserva is an enjoyable "everyday" wine that pairs well with any number of dishes like grilled meats, mild hard cheeses, pastas and tomato-based sauces.

2004 Cavia Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza, Argentina ($8.99) While Cabs are good candidates for aging, this young medium-bodied wine can be consumed as is, with its distinctive black currant aroma and hints of cedar, violets, leather and tobacco and its mild tannic edge. You can’t go wrong serving it with anything from chocolate desserts and pastas, to meats, mushroom based sauces and cheeses.

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