3 little known south american red wines to rival Malbec

South America is well known for its quality red wines. But with so many incredible choices, how do you know which are the OK South American red wines, and which ones are the best?

While you’ll find all the usual suspects in South America - the perennially popular Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Pinot Noir, these aren’t the only wines produced in this vast continent. 

You’ll be aware of Malbec, a wine that originated in France but has quickly taken on a new identity as a chief export from Argentina. But do you know about País? Bonarda? Carménère?

Here’s our guide to 3 little known south american red wines to rival malbec, and the most popular versions of these wines available through iVino. 

País - Chile

This grape variety was originally known as Listán Negro, but since it was introduced to South America in the 16th century from Spain, it has been one of the most common varietals used in the production of basic, everyday, commercial wines. It’s also known as Criolla in Argentina, and Mission in the US. 

However, recently, vintners have come to realise the full potential of País grapes and their ability to produce incredibly high quality wine on their own terms. País wines are typically light to medium bodied, fresh, fruity with a herby aroma and a flavour that is pure red and black fruits.

Drink your País wine alongside a variety of dishes - from light appetisers, to white meats, or pasta. If you have a País with more body, it also works well with red meat.

Las Mercedes Singular País 2016

This stunning example of a País wine is not dissimilar to a mature Burgundy. With a lovely, delicate nose, Las Mercedes Singular País 2016, is utterly drinkable - soft, dry, aromatic and floral with hints of fresh raspberries and hibiscus flowers. 

Take this wine seriously - it’s a serious wine. 

Bonarda - Argentina

Bonarda is Argentina’s version of País. Largely condemned to cheap table wine and subsequently falling out of fashion, this grape varietal has experienced a renaissance in recent years. 

Despite having its origins in France (most South American wines have their origins in Europe, having been brought over in the 15th century by the Spanish), this incredibly popular red grape variety has become a go to wine in Argentina. 

It’s not to be confused with the Italian Bonarda Piemontese.

The grape itself is predominantly planted in the Mendoza wine region, and was, until fairly recently, the most populous grape variety in the whole of Argentina. 

Bonarda lends itself very well to blends, but it can hold its own, producing light bodied, incredible fruity wine, moderate tannins and a well balanced finish. It pairs perfectly with hearty, meaty dishes and tomato based pastas. 

Cara Sur Bonarda 2018

Try our Cara Sur Bonarda 2018 made from 100% Bonardo grapes. These grapes come from 1500m above sea level, from the Maggio Estate vineyard in Calingasta. While the wine is black in appearance, the ominous appearance gives way to a pleasant herby nose with sweet black fruit notes. 

Snap up a bottle while it’s available.

Carménère - Chile

Once more originating in France, Bordeaux this time, this grape varietal has all but disappeared from its native homeland. But that’s not to say it's gone for good (as was once thought), rather it upsticked and found a much more preferable home in Chile, where the majority of these grapes (98% of the world’s Carménère grapes) are now grown. 

Largely mistaken for Merlot, these very dark skinned grapes work well in blends but they’re at their very best as a single varietal wine - as they make one incredibly easy drinker. 

Exceptional examples of Carménère are medium bodied with juicy red fruit flavours, a herbal bouquet, with spicy pepper and rich black fruits. Pairs perfectly with most foods, including red meat, spicy dishes and vegetarian dishes. 

Ventisquero Reserva Carménère 2018

Try our fruity Ventisquero Reserva Carménère 2018 - a notable wine with an incredible structure. Delicious, well balanced with volume, and while it is a big wine with velvety tannins, it retains a refined, elegant finish. A superb choice.