Argentina Wine

Argentina Wine


History of Argentina Wine

Argentina wine arrived from Spain in 1557. It took some time to find the appropriate locations for the cultivation of wine however it was indeed discovered that parts of South America were excellent for wine growing. But during those early days, due to navigation troubles, and sparsely populated regions, wine became scarce. It was only later when religious services and missions demanded wine, and the need for wine for the sick, that serious wine production began in Argentina.

The cuttings cut from vines in Spain during the winter budded during the long voyages, having passed through the more southerly and hence warmer latitudes. Arriving at their destination they were planted in an inappropriate season. Later, material in pots was tried hoping to solve these problems, but again problems of transportation occurred. It is also known that seeds from grapes were used in the formation of those first vineyards. The problem here was the varietal characteristics of the original grapes were not the same. However these plantings would be the origin of numerous native varieties that populated the colonial vineyard and are still used today.

Many varietals in Argentina reflect its Italian and Spanish immigrant population. Italians brought Sangiovese, Barbera, Dolcetto, and Bonarda. The Spanish brought Tempranillo, (Spain’s answer to Cabernet Sauvignon), and Torrontés, a white wine grape from Galicia. Torrontés can be a delightful wine with crisp acidity and a lovely Muscat-like aroma. Other Bordeaux varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot, and almost all reds, achieve the same deep color and soft tannins found in Malbec. This is largely due to the increased ultraviolet light from high altitude plantings (as high as 5400 feet in some areas.

Mendoza wine Although there are several regions of Argentina that grow wine, Mendoza is the largest producing 60% of all wine in Argentina. This region is snug against the Andes Mountains and is sunny most of the year. The soil is excellent due to snowmelt drainage from the mountain range. In 1598, the first wines from Mendoza appeared in Buenos Aires. Two preponderant factors influenced the huge growth of viticulture: on the one hand, the large proportion of European immigrants in Mendoza originating from South European countries where viticulture was a large industry. On the other hand the arrival of the train in 1885.

Why Is Argentine Wine So Good?

Argentine winemakers have traditionally been more interested in quality rather than quantity. Due to the high altitude and low humidity of the main wine producing regions, Argentine vineyards rarely face the problems of insects, fungi, moulds and other disease that affect grapes in other countries. This permits cultivating with little or no pesticides, allowing some organic wines to be easily produced.

There are many different varieties of grapes cultivated in Argentina. The most popular is the Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon among the reds. The Torrontés and Chardonnay among the whites.

The Malbec

Argentina wine The most distinctive grapes are the Malbec, introduced in the 19th century and currently Argentina is the world’s number 1 producer of it. . Malbec is a minor blending grape in Bordeaux and California, but in Argentina, it is a primary varietal. Malbec in Argentina produces a dark, juicy, spicy, and meaty wine, a great match for Argentina’s wonderful grass-fed beef. Malbec is said to provide a more compelling personality than the top wines from Chile.

Argentine Wine Industry

Argentina is the fifth largest wine producer in the world and the largest wine producer in South America. However it is the 13th largest exported of wine in the world. Argentineans drink less wine than they used to, so there is plenty to export. Total production in 2000 amounted to 440 million gallons, but less than five percent of that was exported. But after the devaluation of the Argentina peso, there is more money to be made and foreign investors have helped to increase quality and production such as Moet and Chandon, the French based company.

Of course, “you can’t dismiss Chardonnay. It’s the driving force for American wine consumption,” says George Rose of Allied Domecq, the international beverage conglomerate that owns Balbi. “Chardonnay is incredible in Argentina. We sell twice as much Chardonnay as Malbec,” Catena says. “Altitude is the key. At different altitudes you get different characters. For example, more acidity from higher altitude, more tropical flavors from lower altitudes. When you blend them together you get a more interesting wine with a lot of layers of flavor.”

Nonetheless, Johnson thinks Sauvignon Blanc has a better future than Chardonnay because “it loves the heat.” Generally, Sauvignon Blanc in Argentina gets no oak treatment. In fact, says Johnson, “Argentineans are just getting comfortable with Chardonnay in oak.” José Alberto Zuccardi, proprietor of Santa Julia, likes Pinot Grigio and Viognier, particularly Viognier, which he says “shows a great adaptation capability to the climate and soil of the region (Mendoza).”

Argentina has the ability to produce good wine at very inexpensive prices. And it has also stunned the wine industry with it’s excellent wines, making it one of the most diverse and constant players in the wine world. With prices depressed, quality rising, and all things Latin becoming more and more popular on a global scale, this is the best time ever to discover Argentinean wines.

Argentina Wine Reviews and Recommendations

Because there are over 3,000 different labels of Argentina wine to choose from, it is difficult to pinpoint the best. Here we have narrowed the search to a few factors. Price and grape variental.

Argentina Malbec From Mendoza


Argentina wine

Producer: Finca La Linda

Wine: Malbec

Vintage: 2003

Appellation: Mendoza

Country: Argentina

Wine Type: Red

Varietal: Malbec

Grade: A-

Designation: Cheap and Good

Price: 20 pesos in Buenos Aires

This 2003 Malbec is a great deal. It’s a medium-bodied red with ripe fruit and good balance. Its central theme is plum and dark berry fruit, both in aromas and flavors. There are also soft floral flavors, some pepper, and then a creamy toffee and butterscotch finish that is silky and smooth. A good food wine or romantic wine. The Cabernet and Tempranillo are also excellent.


Argentina wine Producer: Altas Cumbres

Wine: Malbec

Vintage: 2003

Appellation: Mendoza

Country: Argentina

Wine Type: Red

Varietal: Malbec

Grade: A-

Designation: Cheap and Good

Price: 20 pesos in Buenos Aires

This 2003 was surprising excellent. From the first sniff, I got a sense of place, and a large body. It’s a large-bodied red with a dark berry fruit aroma. It was incredible from beginning to end and I was atonsihed at just how much I enjoyed the body. It is a sweet wine, but not too sweet and works as a desert, a romantic event, or just for pure pleasure of the grape.


Argentina Malbec Producer: Bodega Catena Zapata

Wine: Alamos Malbec

Vintage: 2003

Appellation: Mendoza

Country: Argentina

Wine Type: Red

Varietal: Malbec

Grade: B+

Designation: Cheap and Good

Price: $10

This Malbec displays ripe blackberry and cassis on the palate with notes of chocolate and espresso.


Argentine Wine Producer: Bodegas Lopez

Wine: Lopez Malbec

Vintage: 2004

Appellation: Mendoza

Country: Argentina

Wine Type: Red

Varietal: Malbec

Grade: B+

Designation: Cheap and Good

Price: (if in Argentina, 10pesos)

This is a excellent table wine from the Lopez vineyards who have been around since 1898. In Buenos Aires, this is a standard table wine to accompany most meat dishes in restaurants.

Contact Izic Wick at

tangohistorytours@gmail.com

for more information about Argentina Wine 

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About the author of this blog.

Tom Wick is an American expat living in Buenos Aires. An expert travel consultant and tour guide offering free travel inforamtion and private guided tours of Buenos Aires.

Contact Me

Please write to me about any Buenos Aires Argentina travel information or about living in Buenos Aires as an expat. tangohistorytours@gmail.com

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