Through San Juan, Mendoza to the Patagonian South, the vineyards of Argentina stretch for miles and miles.
Argentina is a huge country and the largest of all the wine producing countries of South America and the fifth largest in the world!
Argentina is a very hot country and rainfall is low but irrigation, like Chile, is plentiful from the snow melted from the Andes Mountains.
Day long sunshine produces super ripe, high alcohol, full-bodied wines. Unfortunately they don’t have the offshore cooling breezes that Chile benefits from, so Argentinian wine makers plant their vineyards at higher altitudes in the mountains, thus being a cooler environment for them.It’s actually cooler in the mountains, rather than the concept of heat rising. Think snow peaks as they are very, very high!
There are a vast array of grape varieties grown in Argentina, due to the different types of European settlers bringing with them their vines over the years e.g. Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and French to name but a few. This provides an extraordinary palette with which to work from.
The main red grape variety which is used, indigenous to Argentina, is Malbec. This produces brambly fruited, full-bodied and spicy wines.
The main white grape variety is the Torrontes grape. The well-known international varieties find it hard to attain their perfect flavours in this environment. Torrontes does, however, produce superb aromatic white wines.
It is only in the last fifteen years that Argentina has completely flipped it’s focus (with the help of many foreign investors and partnerships like Chile). From age old techniques and low quality domestic market wine to modern processes and worldwide export. Now it has International fame for good quality, yet low cost wines!
It also helps that labour costs are low and climatic conditions are reasonably favourable (not as reliable as Chile). Argentina can suffer from hot winds and hail which can destroy an entire crop outright. All these beneficial factors allow production of higher yields thus overall cost is reduced and passed onto the consumer!
It is important with yields to find a balance between maximising production and retaining quality. More recently, however, these larger yields of Argentina have been more controlled and reduced in a lot of areas. So finer reds of superb quality are being produced for the top end wine market, especially from around the Mendoza area.
Remember, its quality not quantity with vines- the fewer number of grapes produced on a vine, usually the higher the quality of the grapes!
- San Juan
- Famatina Valley (actually called La Rioja but not allowed to use this name for export labels as it would be confused with La Rioja in Spain).
- Rio Negro
The most important area is Mendoza, where in the Upper Mendoza River, the finest reds are produced and in the Uco Valley, they produce the best white wines.
- Bramble fruit, spicy and full-bodied reds
- Aromatic, full-bodied whites
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Catena Zapata’s Alamos Malbec
- Catena Alta’s Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon
- Colome’s Torrontes
- Terraza’s Cabernet Sauvignon (made by Moet and Chandon)
- Any of Bodega Norton’s wines. Awarded as one of the top 20 vineyards in the World. Incredible fine wines. Owned by the Swarovski family…yes ladies, diamantes AND wine!