For most casual consumers of wine, Argentina means one thing: Malbecs from Mendoza. However, Argentina is large and geographically diverse, and the wine making is finding a home along the country’s entire western frontier. Check into the quality and variety of Argentina´s Wine Regions.
Since Argentina first began exporting wines in earnest in the 1990’s, Mendoza has been the epicenter of the Argentine wine industry; and in Mendoza, Malbec is king. Originally from the Bordeaux region of France, the Malbec grape lost prevalence in that country as the climate cooled and a phylloxera (an aphid-like pest) epidemic destroyed many of Europe’s oldest vines in the mid 1800s. However, European immigrants to Argentina had been bringing Malbec cuttings with them for years, thus preserving and establishing an Old World grape as a signature New World varietal.
Argentine Malbecs burst on to the international stage in the early 2000’s, replacing Australian Shiraz as the go-to hip, dependable, and affordable wine, particularly among consumers in the US. The nation welcomed the new business – as Carolyn Gallagher says in Boom Varietal, a documentary film about Malbecs in Mendoza, “We were starting to get positive press about the wines and the area instead of negative press about the government,” – and Mendozan vinters worked hard to incorporate wine tourism into the local economy, to great success
By 2010, the New York Times was writing about another niche varietal from Argentina, this time Torrontés, a white grape from Cafayate Valley in the northern province of Salta. A similarly sun-soaked, high-altitude region, Salta – as with the entire northwest – is a bit of a cultural outlier in Argentina, in that it has a much more visible influence from indigenous Andean cultures than the European imports that permeate other parts of the country. It follows, then, that this region would be home to perhaps one of the only native South American grape varietals. The three subtypes of Torrontés are all grown almost exclusively in Argentina, making the white grape a unique part of an Argentinian wine-tasting experience. Visitors to Cafayate hoping to truly educate themselves on the region and its wines can visit the Museu de la Vid y el Vino, a museum dedicated to the history and culture of winemaking in the region.
For serious eonophiles, the Rio Negro region presents the most exciting new chapter in Argentinian wines, as a sort of yin-yang dichotomy of the characteristically bold, intense landscapes of Patagonia is beginning to produce delicate, elegant Pinot Noirs. Piero Incisa della Rochetta of Bodega Chacra is continuing the tradition of Italian immigrants bringing innovation to Argentine wines. “The trends in Argentina are very similar to what’s happening with trends in general,” say Kaitlyn Doonan of T. Edward Wines in New York City. For the most part, that means natural wines grown in biodynamic and environmentally conscious ways, and that is exactly what Mr. Incisa is hoping to acheive. Patagonian Pinot Noirs are just emerging on the interational scene, so as it’s winemaking industry contrinue to grow, travelers looking for adventure can find it in the regions dramatic landscapes as well as in its tasting rooms.
According to the folks at Vistandes Winery in Maipú, using natural used to be the best way to seal bottles of wine, to allow for proper oxidation. But thanks to modern technology, screwtops are just as successful at maintaining the quality of a bottle of wine – and they’re much cheaper – which means corks are now more an element of style and aesthetic than of practicality and quality. So next time you pass over that screw-top bottle for a more expensive cork sealed one, keep in mind: don’t judge a bottle by it’s closure!
To start planning your Argentina’s Wine Regions trip , you can visit Mendoza, Salta and Jujuy or Patagonia. You can also get information about other trips in Argentina and Chile, visiting www.sayhueque.com
Written by Claudia Crook