Ex­pert’s choice: South Amer­i­can Ries­ling

It’s be­gin­ning to flour­ish in Ar­gentina, Chile and Uruguay. Pa­tri­cio Tapia rec­om­mends his top 12

Decanter - - NEWS -

For most wine lovers there’s no nat­u­ral as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween Ries­ling and South Amer­ica. For Ries­ling fans, the go-to places are Ger­many or Aus­tria – or if they are forced to travel to the New World, per­haps Aus­tralia or New Zealand. South Amer­ica can be the source of very good wines, but Ries­ling doesn’t gen­er­ally spring to mind when think­ing of this part of the world.

This is per­haps to be ex­pected. In to­tal, there are barely more than 500ha of Ries­ling in Ar­gentina, Chile and Uruguay com­bined. The va­ri­ety is thought to have ar­rived in those ar­eas to­wards the sec­ond half of the 19th cen­tury, to­gether with the first im­ports of Euro­pean vines. Pi­o­neers were the Cousiño fam­ily, who brought some plants from Rhein­gau in Ger­many and planted them on their farm in Macul, just out­side San­ti­ago. To­day, much of the Ries­ling planted in Chilean soil is di­rectly de­scended from that ma­te­rial, while CousiñoMacul con­tin­ues to pro­duce its clas­sic Isi­dora, a Ries­ling that de­buted half a cen­tury ago.

Chile is the main pro­ducer of Ries­ling in South Amer­ica, with 412ha planted. It is fol­lowed by Ar­gentina with 88ha and Uruguay with 5ha. But in all of these coun­tries, Ries­ling is far from be­ing the most-planted white va­ri­ety.

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