June 22, 2016
Region of the Week: Argentina
Over the past decade, Argentina has evolved from a country not too well-known on the global wine scene to one of the most important wine-producing countries in the New World, and the largest producer of wine in South America. Famous for its big, ripe wines, and especially for its terrific Malbec, Argentina is still unveiling its treasures, and we’re here to explore them… Read on!
A little bit of history…
Although Argentinian wines are considered New World wines, the country’s vinicultural history dates back more than 400 years. It all started with Spanish missionaries planting vines in Argentina to ensure a supply of sacramental wines.
The Argentinian wine industry experienced a significant boost in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, when an important influx of Italian settlers brought new vines and winemaking techniques to South America. European grape varieties started to flourish in the country, and one in particular – Malbec, native to southwest France – then became Argentina’s signature red grape.
Argentina and its grapes
Most viticulture in Argentina takes place in the foothill of the Andes, and more specifically in Mendoza. There are seven denominated Argentinian wine regions: Mendoza, Salta, Neuquén, Río Negro, Catamarca, La Rioja and San Juan. Mendoza isn’t Argentina’s main wine region for no reason: the key to such high quality terroir is altitude, and the region has plenty of it. The higher the vineyard, the cooler the nights, which makes for aromatic, intensely flavored wines, and balanced sugar and acidity levels. In fact, some of the country’s best producers even go as far as specifying the precise vineyard altitude on their labels.
The most planted and renowned grape in Argentina is Malbec, which represents the country’s point of difference. Other varieties produced in Argentina include Cabernet Sauvignon and Bonarda, and, on a smaller level, Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo and Pinot Noir. Although Argentina is famous for its bright and intense red wines, let’s not forget about its whites! Aside from the country’s signature grape, Torrontés, which yields flavorful and aromatic dry wines, Argentina also produces some smart Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio.
Argentina is the fastest-growing region of the New World, so it’s no wonder it has risen to become the fifth-most-prominent wine-producing country in the world, following France, Italy, Spain and the USA.
Where to taste?
Do not leave Argentina before visiting those three family-owned wineries:
Bodegas López, Maipú
Bodega Carmelo Patti, Luján de Cuyo
Familia Zuccardi, Maipú