|Tom Cannavan's wine-pages.com|
|Mendoza, the epicentre of the Argentinean wine industry, lies just a hundred miles or so east of Santiago, the capital city of Chile. However, the journey between the two is as much vertical as horizontal, separated as they are by the highest peak of the Andes, mount Aconcagua at over 23,000 feet. As with Chile, the Andes is the backbone that supports the Argentinean wine industry.|
Geography and climate
In the rain shadow of the Andes, Argentina is for the most part an arid landscape, but like Chile it benefits from a supply of irrigating water off the mountains. Unlike Chile however, the generally warmer inland region can support vine growing down the length of the country. In the north, the vineyards lie at the same latitude as Morocco; in the south, vineyards share latitude with New Zealand. One of the keys to growing quality wine grapes here is altitude, with vineyards planted at between 2,000 and 3,000 feet to exploit cooler temperatures.
Again like their neighbours there have been massive plantings here of Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and all the usual suspects. However Argentina also has a tradition of Spanish and Italian varieties like Tempranillo, Bonarda and Barbera that can make wonderfully juicy berry and cherry-fruited reds.
But there are two grapes which perhaps hold most promise for Argentina's future: Torrontés is a white wine grape that makes terrifically fragrant, perfumed yet rich and fruity wines with crisp acidity and plenty of body.
|This is Argentina's powerhouse and centre of quality accounting for over 80% of total production (or to put it
another way, over half of the entire wine production of South America). Producers like Luigi Bosca, Etchart, Finca Flichman, Bodegas
Lurton, Norton, Catena and Weinert make fine Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay with increasingly impressive Syrahs and Malbecs.
Many have been subject to foreign investment from top European houses. Some superb Malbecs are being made in the sub-region of
Luján de Cuyo, from producers like Fabre Montmayou. Tupungato is a new quality sub-region, largely developed by the giant Peñaflor
winery (for their premium Trapiche label).
Sitting in the very far north of the country, Salta is a region of generally high quality with fine Cabernets Sauvignons and, especially Torrontés in the Cafayate sub-region. Etchart has a winery here, but other notable producers are Finca Colomé and Michel Torino.