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Argentina


There is a palpable sense of community in the Argentine culture when they come together to eat, drink, and relax. Their wines are a reflection of this – each bottle is a celebration in itself that is made that much more enjoyable when shared with others.

 

Argentina Map

Location

Along with Chile, Argentina occupies the southern most part of South America. Mendoza is located in the west central area of the country at the foothill of the Andes Mountain Range, the tallest mountains in the world outside the Himalayas. It’s the most outstanding and prestigious viticulture region in Argentina, producing the vast majority of the country’s wine. In fact, more wine is produced in this region than in the whole of Australia!

Culture

Argentina is known for Tango, Football (Soccer), and Parilla (BBQ). However, it is much more than that. It is an incredibly diverse country with an indigenous culture combined with influences of a strong Spanish, French, and Italian heritage that is evident in the passion of its people, especially in the production of their wine. 

Terroir

With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, low annual rainfall, and high altitudes, Mendoza provides near perfect conditions for the growth of wine grapes. 

The land in this area is essentially a desert. The Andes create a 'rain shadow' with much of the rain falling on the Chilean side of the mountains. One thousand years ago, the native Huarpe Indians built an irrigation system to channel the pristine glacial waters of the mountains to the desert area of what became Mendoza, creating an oasis to be used for farming. This irrigation system is still used by the winemakers of Mendoza today, giving them greater control over the growth and maintenance of the vines. The dry climate means the vines are less susceptible to mould and rot that could not only damage the vines, but also affect the flavours and aromas of the wine they produce. 

Mendoza's high altitude causes large fluctuations in day and night time temperatures resulting in grapes that ripen slowly to produce highly flavourful wines with good acidity. 

With a history of viticulture dating back to the 1500s when the first vine clippings were brought over by Spanish settlers, Argentina has grown to be the fifth largest producer of wine in the world.

Winemaking

Winemaking began with the production of wine for Mass by Catholic monks in the early 16th century. It then rapidly accelerated in the 19th century when European immigrants brought their knowledge and experience in wine elaboration and introduced grape varieties such as Malbec, Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot, and Semillon which thrived in the varied Argentine terroir and microclimates.

The increasing demand for fine wines in the late 20th century caused a shift in Argentine winemaking that now sees it producing some of the most spectacular New World wines.

Malbec

Though originally from southwest France where it is used primarily for blending, the Malbec grape found its ideal environmental conditions in Argentina for the production of exceptional wine. Mendoza is considered the best producer of Malbec in the world and it continues to be its greatest export variety. 

Malbec is distinguishable by its intense, dark colour and fruity aromas. In the mouth it is warm and silky, and presents non-aggressive tannins. It is a perfect partner for grilled red meats, pasta with red sauces, and hard cheeses. 

Torrontes

It is unknown when the Torrontes grape was introduced into Argentina, however, Torrontes, like Malbec, has found its natural home in the Argentinian terroir. With very little Torrontes being produced outside Argentina, it has become the country's emblematic white varietal. Although it is grown in various winemaking regions in Argentina, the cold dry climate of Salta is considered the best region for the cultivation of Torrontes grapes.

The wine is pale yellow in colour with floral aromas that suggest sweet flavours; yet in the mouth a refreshing acidity balances the fruit flavours. It is perfect as an aperitif or paired with fish and seafood. It also pairs surprisingly well with the spicy foods such as Indian, Thai, and Chinese.