Your Guide to South American Wines - This Month's Novel Wines Explorer's Club
Welcome to this month's Novel Wines Explorer's Club, the UK's most exciting wine subscription for the curious drinker. Each month, we will introduce you to a new wine region as part of our promise to deliver no two wines the same for a whole year. Not a member yet? Subscribe here.
Looking for an older guide? See all the Explorer's Club guides here.
What's in this month's Explorer's Club?
For the festive period, we're celebrating winter warmer wines. Where better to look than South American full-bodied reds, creamy oaked whites and deep, fruity sparkling wines. We've got a delicious Syrah from Colchagua, traditional method fizz, a new wave Malbec, a moreish Barbera, velvety Semillon, and structured, flavourful Tannat.
What better way to celebrate during the winter period? Whether you're sipping it over the Christmas holidays, or enjoying a glass over New Years, these will keep you warm, cosy and excited about a new year of discovering new wines.
Without further ado, here's our buyer Ben chatting you through this month's Club selection.
If you have any specific questions about the wine, you can get in touch with our team here. However, we've got lots of info on the wines below, so pull the cork and get stuck in!
Kicking off this month's Explorer's Club is the fizz Familia Geisse Amadeu Brut (included in The Globetrotter only). This wine was the brainchild of Mario Geisse, who trained with Moet & Chandon Brasil in the 1970s and founded Familia Geisse, which is now in the hands of his two sons.
The winery only produces quality traditional method sparkling wines (same process as in Champagne) with fruit grown at 800m altitude in Brazil. The "Amadeu" range are Geisse's entry level sparkling wines but they will still knock your socks off. This wine has aromas of white blossom, green apples and ripe pears with a dry, fruity and toasty palate. Medium bodied and very refreshing, this is the perfect sparkling wine to cheers a celebration or enjoy as an aperitif before dinner. Drink it with salmon blinis or calamari.
Next up is the Pizzato PP Semillon (included in both The Rambler and The Globetrotter). This is a rare bottling and one of only a limited release of bottles from a parcel of vines in Serra Gaúcha's Dois Lajeados. The original plantings were by Flavio Pizzato's grandfather in the 1960s and Flavio decided to revive the Semillon grape in the region and make a special, oak-aged white wine.
Matured in barrels with oak staves and acacia wood heads, this is a straw-coloured full bodied white wine with aromas of toasted nuts, vanilla spice and wildflowers. On the palate expect a creamy texture with zingy, lemon-like acidity, fleshy pears and white peach, all finishing up with sweet spice. Very memorable, and best paired with pasta in cream sauce, BBQ pork, or satay chicken.
The first red wine in your box is the Pablo Fallabrino Barbera (included in The Globetrotter only). This is a very exciting rendition of Barbera, sourced from vines on the coastal Atlantida region in Uruguay. Pablo brings Italian heritage to South American winemaking and produces a soft, bold red wine with lots of dark cherry and plum character.
This lively, satisfying red pairs beautifully with lamb, Italian ragù or game with truffles. It will also pair well with sheep's cheese.
Coming from Chile next, let us introduce you to the Polkura 'Random' Unexpected Wine (included in both The Rambler and The Globetrotter). This red blend of Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon is made by the Polkura family who are growers at heart. Their own label wine is reserved for the wines they love, and no two vintages of Random are ever the same. This 2017 vintage in your box is richly fruity, deep coloured and perfect for the winter. The wine comes from the Colchagua Valley, a hilly and mountainous region in Chile with cool ocean breezes helping preserve acidity and finesse in the wine.
Pairs perfectly with steak and thick cut chips, lamb casserole, blue cheeseburger, or hard cheese like Gouda, Comte or Cheddar. It's one of those wines that loves to be stood up to flavour.
Time for an old favourite with the Don Guerino Vintage Malbec (included in both The Rambler and The Globetrotter) from Brazil. Made by the young but vastly talented winemaker Bruno Motter in Alto Feliz in the valley of the vines, this is a plush, purplish ruby Malbec packed with lots of plum fruit and gentle tannins. It's a marvel with your favourite cheeseboard, pairs naturally well with red meat, and even better with mushroom or aubergine dishes. If you like Malbec, this is something new and exciting to try - while being a guaranteed crowd pleaser!
Last up in your case is this Pizzato Fausto Tannat (included in The Globetrotter only), a gorgeous and moreish Tannat. The wine is brimming with blueberries, spices, caramel and vanilla.
This is the second bottle in your case made by the Pizzato family, originally from Italy. Today their 45 hectares of vines are split across Vale dos Vinhedos and Dois Lajeados, the former some 500m above sea level. The Tannat grown here enjoys plenty of sun and ripens fully, allowing it to be enjoyed earlier than its European counterparts.
Try with topside beef and roasted root veg, or a heart-warming stew.
The Wines of South America
South America is a huge place and to talk about it generally is to do the region a disservice. It's also a wonderfully innovative continent when it comes to winemaking, full of experimentation and drive to be great. It shows in their wines, which improve in quality every single year.
In the mix we've put together, we've got a few South American countries to try that show you something different from Argentina and the mega Chilean exporters that we all know and love.
Our Chilean wine, from Polkura, is made by a family of growers and only sees the export market thanks to an initiative called MOVI, bringing together a series of small producers to export as one. This means we can try some of the more quality-driven wines and we're very excited to be showing off Polkura wines in the UK.
From Brazil, we wanted to show you how important the country's southern state is for quality fizz and red wines. We've got a sparkling from 800m above sea level, made the same way as Champagne and evoking packs of fruit and toast, and a couple of red wines from the "valley of the vines" that combine altitude with plenty of sunshine. This sun gives the red grapes physiological ripeness by fully ripening the skins of the grape as well as the sugars and acids. The result is a smoother, more supple style than those of Europe.
Interestingly we also have a small parcel of white from Brazil in your box. We don't see much quality white wine being exported from Brazil, but this Semillon will hopefully show you what can happen with some love behind it. It's one of our favourite wines.
Finally we have a new producer, Pablo Fallabrino, from Atlantida in Uruguay. A coastal, warm region producing a new style of Italian wines. These are riper but just as complex and engaging as the Northern Italian greats. Much of that is down to Pablo's expertise, but also the balanced nature of the coast's cooling winds and the heat of the sun. A generous but thoughtful wine.
Eating with South American wines
It will come as no surprise that steak is the obvious food match for the reds of South America. "Malbec and steak" is probably one of wine marketing's biggest success stories. However, my cheat of fat + tannin = great food pairing actually means wines like the Tannat in your box will be an even better pairing. The tannins offset the fat and the fruit sings with the tenderness of the meat.
Generally, the sunshine in the South American wines we've chosen lends itself to body and fruit. This means that the dishes we can enjoy with them can be as hearty as you like. Think of casseroles, buttery risottos, mashed potato, thick gravy, or pongy Cheddar. These wines will go with all of it. The Semillon with an piece of rich, oily salmon would be a marvel.
Where can I find out more?
If you're not subscribed to the Club, crack on and get your subscription online by clicking here and join from only £49. If you'd rather just stock up on wines then find our wines from Brazil here, Uruguay here, or Chile here.