Argentina is a land blessed with a plethora of amazing natural resources and areas of incredible majestic beauty. It's home to high summits, bountiful forests, skull and bones dry desert, icy glaciers, and stunning waterfalls. If you could possibly... Read More
Argentina is a land blessed with a plethora of amazing natural resources and areas of incredible majestic beauty. It's home to high summits, bountiful forests, skull and bones dry desert, icy glaciers, and stunning waterfalls. If you could possibly imagine a landscape in a dream, you can find it somewhere on the fantastic patch of land that is Argentina.
The Argentinian tradition of winemaking is also a stunning and fabulous credit to their diverse culture and deep European roots. The regions in which they grow their grape varietals are most often found in the broad valleys and gently sloping plains close by steep mountainsides. It's also important to note that the majority of vineyards are located far from the large and industrious cities and the pollution that gathers from the large populous. Nearly every detail of Argentina's great wines makes them unique, authentic to place, and inspiring to the senses. Their intense colours and breathtaking aromatic complexities, and the way they sing on the palate with or without accompanied cuisine, makes Argentina a fascinating and desirable country to collect and consume wine from.
Malbec is obviously their statement piece in terms of making an impact globally, but there are many other grape varieties both white and red that are world-class as well. Torrontés for example is a white grape variety like none other in the world. Yes, you can draw similarities from other aromatic white grapes such as muscat and Viognier, but Torrontés has its own unique textures, nuances, flavours, and aromas. Bonarda is another talking point in terms of grapes that find a unique home in Argentina. This grape variety is the last to be harvested in Argentina and at one period was the most planted grape in the country. Its origins are debated, but some experts claim it to be indigenous to Italy, while others claim it could be from elsewhere. Wherever it's from, Bonarda is a unique wine that displays a variety of styles both light and fruity and also bold and concentrated.
The following is a breakdown of the different wine-growing regions in Argentina and what they specialise in. You'll find it very interesting to know the depth and character of each region and why the wines from each taste a certain way.
ARGENTINA'S MAJOR WINE REGIONS
If you have ever consumed a bottle of Argentina's wine then it was most likely from the famous region of Mendoza. It's an extremely large region sitting around 58,000 square miles and accounts for about 75% of the grapevines planted in the country. Mendoza produces an extremely diverse set of grapevines, however, Malbec and Torrontés are the grapes that make their trademark calling. Malbec is one of Bordeaux's permitted varieties and is Mendoza's most planted grape. The Malbec's from Mendoza are inky and powerful, showing distinct flavours of dark black fruits, liquorice, spice, and cedar. Torrontés is a white grape native to Spain and is crisp and extremely aromatic. Cabernet Sauvignon is also grown beautifully in Mendoza and many even think it rivals Malbec as being the best-represented wine in the region. If you're searching for wine of immense quality, then look no further than Mendoza, which is one of the country's best regions.
LA RIOJA -
This region obviously takes its name and pays homage to the world-famous wine region in Spain. It's located south of Salta and north of San Juan and unlike Spain's Rioja, this region is extremely hot and arid. This of course translates to wines that are higher in alcohol content, and a bit lower in acidity. The wines here are of good quality and perhaps better than its neighbour to the south San Juan, however, the wines are not extremely long lives and have issues with oxidation. La Rioja like most regions in Argentina is known for its Malbec, but in recent plantings, we're beginning to see more heat resistant white varieties being planted.
RIO NEGRO -
You'd be wise to keep a keen eye on the Rio Negro growing region. If only accounts for around 5% of Argentina's total grape cultivation, the regions amazing growing season suggests that the current anonymity won't last very much longer. The furthest region from the equator and Argentina's most southern wine district, Rio Negro has a very cool climate and an extremely long growing season. This extended season combined with a plentitude of sunlight, the distinguishing chalky soil, and the cool climate makes this region prime for growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. With the foreign interest rising in the wines from Rio Negro, we could see this region explode into Argentina's next biggest thing.
Home to some of the highest vineyards in the world, some of which even climb to unheard of elevations of around 10,000 feet. Salta is a region of incredible climactic variation and extremes. In the lower elevations of the region, it's far too warm and tropical to grow grape varieties for wine, however, when you rise to the cooler mountain terrain it becomes suitable to various white grapes and in particular Torrontés. This cool mountain climate and higher proximity to the sunlight makes for Torrontés with scintillating aromatics, ripeness of fruit character, and brightly forged acidity. Salta also has a few really great examples of small production Malbec and with a little foreign investment and a bit more stability politically, this region could really advance to new heights.
SAN JUAN -
This is Argentina's second-largest region in terms of production, however much of the harvest is used to make brandy rather than fine wine. It's situated just north of Mendoza where the soil is alluvial and carries lots of sand and clay. The climate in San Juan is very dry and hot due to its proximity to the equator. This heat makes it the ideal place for producing wines with high alcohol and relatively low acidity, much of which ends up be average table wine or fortified dessert wine. Syrah is perhaps the best opportunity for the region to produce wine of real merit because of its thick skin and resistance to the warm climate.
This is just an introduction to Argentina as a wine-growing region. There are of course many other sub-appellations to discover within each of these larger areas, and a whole world of small family-run wineries that are there to be discovered and unearthed. What's great about wine from Argentina is the amazing affordability that the country still offers for high-quality wine.
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