rgentina is as yet less established internationally than Chile and many wineries seem to have some way to go to match the fruit quality achieved at lower levels by her neighbour across the Andes. The country is, however, the fifth largest wine producer in the world, with a vast bulk-wine industry centred around the main region of Mendoza, which accounts for around nine out of every ten bottles produced. Argentina does appear to have real promise for good and indeed premium wine production and a number of impressive reds and whites are now being made. Outside expertise from the likes of Michel Rolland is increasing as is investment in new vineyards and wineries.

In the north of the country are the hot and dry vineyards of Salta, Tucumán and Catamarca. The lower lying vineyards are too warm for quality wine production and irrigation is vital. Within these regions, though, there are a number of better sites with vineyards planted at high altitude, in particular those in the Calchaquies Valley at Cafayate. Some good results are being achieved with both Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon as well as the aromatic Torrontés.

Winter in the vineyards of Mendoza

The bulk of Argentina’s vineyards are in the Cuyo region to the south of Salta. Most northerly of the areas is high altitude La Rioja, a source of good reds and Torrontés. The centre of the country’s wine production though is to the south at Mendoza. Areass that are of particular note are Luján de Cuyo, Maipú and the Uco Valley. The best of the vineyard area is planted at considerable altitude and some of the wines are world class. Malbec is very successful here but there are also widespread plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Sangiovese. Bonarda is important both varietally and as a component in many wine blends and is the most widely planted red variety. Chardonnay inevitably is important and produces really striking wines in cooler sites.

To the south in Patagonia are the regions of Neuquén and particularly Río Negro. The climate is cool and early ripening Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Chardonnay have all been grown with some success here. However, stylish, elegant examples of the red Bordeaux varieties and Syrah are also appearing and there are ongoing efforts to realise the potential complexity of Pinot Noir.

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Michel Torino


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