Fun fact - Argentina is the fifth largest wine producing country in the world - and generally regarded as the best when it comes to South America. You may have heard of their amazing Malbecs, not too different from Cab Savs (Cabernet Sauvignon). You might have been fortunate enough to try one or two of these delicious drops, perhaps not noticing where they came from: it’s fair to say that Argentina has come a long way from 1552, when grapevines were first brought to the country, and has managed to establish a strong wine industry since which rivals some of the biggest producers in the world. Lucky for us, this has enabled the country to produce a huge range of wines, from entry level all the way up to ultra premium.
Let’s take a journey into some of Argentina’s wine regions and what they typically offer. We can’t go wrong naming a couple of great drops here for you to try next time you are thinking of stepping out of that comfort zone…!
When people speak of Argentinian wine regions, they usually mention the province of Mendoza. Mendoza is known as the Malbec capital of the country (most would say the world), and Argentina is most famed for this wine in particular. Malbec is a grape variety originating from France, which was sent far and wide via vineyard plantation in the 18th and 19th centuries. The country’s primary wine-producing region, Mendoza produces more than 80% of all Argentinian wine, so no wonder it’s so well known!
Two not-so-spoken-about regions, but also definite must-sees if you’re ever visiting the South American continent, are Salta and Patagonia. Salta is located in the far northwest of Argentina, and is known for being the highest altitude wine growing province in the world. It is the second-largest wine region, and famous for its grape variety, Torrontés. Salta also grows grapes such as Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, to considerable success.
Patagonia, meanwhile, encompasses the extreme south of the South American continent, and actually around a third of the entire landmass of Argentina. It has a number of wine-producing areas, two worth mentioning are Neuquén and Río Negro. Neuquén is still one of the world's newest wine regions, showing much potential, and Río Negro is actually the world's most southern wine region. Both produce elegant styles of Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Malbec. If you are planning a trip to Argentina, you should also include these on your itinerary.
The Malbec grape is known as the country’s national grape, and is by far the finest red grape on offer when it comes to Argentine wines. When blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, it contributes a powerful structure alongside the Malbec core of dense but flavoursome fruit.
Wines to look out for...
Ernesto Catena Vineyards Padrillos Malbec 2014
Made by Ernesto Catena, the son of Nicolas Catena who almost single-handedly put Malbec from Mendoza on the world map. Unsurprisingly, this wine is also from Mendoza, the ideal region to make Malbec. With its high altitude, natural irrigation from the Andes, tendency to be hot during the day, hot during summertime, but with cooler nights - it’s exactly what Malbec loves in a climate. This wine is full-flavoured and concentrated, with critics describing its aromas of dark chocolate and blackberries. It’s a smooth wine, excellent with a good cut of steak, some grilled chops - in fact any grilled or barbecued red meat. You can drink this beauty now, or if it manages to find its way to a cellar, it will keep and continue to develop in flavours over the next 4-5 years.
Ernesto Catena 'Animal' Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
An organic Cabernet, with that Argentine intensity! This wine is young but don’t let that fool you - it’s quite intense, with strong aromatics. Wine critics describe this drop’s spicy notes, even noting the distinct flavour of strawberry jam. It starts off sweet and delicate, with a nice balance of acidity and alcohol - giving it a very well-rounded and easy-to-drink taste. This wine is one that invites you to continue drinking - with or without matching food!
Ernesto Catena Vineyards Padrillos Torrontés 2014
Torrontés is to Argentina what Sauvignon Blanc is to New Zealand. It's the country’s most prolific and common white, and when you're tasting wines like these, it's easy to see why! This beautiful white has a soft, creamy texture - aromatic with massive floral and spice characters. We love its delicious peach and apricot notes, tasting juicy, bright and balanced, but also clean and long. Turn up the heater and pop it on ice - you can easily forget summer is ending with this one!
We hope you’ve learned something in this trip to another continent, and most of all, we hope you get the chance to get stuck into some great Argentinian vino.
Just in case you aren’t a Champagne pro, we’ve compiled a handy list of hints to up your game – with plenty of time before the festive season kicks off this year to get you into the groove!
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