With the influence of European travelers in the 19th century, vine plantings along the Andes near Mendoza was the beginning of the Argentinian wine trade as we know it today. Today, Mendoza is still the most widely known region and the only one with a formal appellation systems.  The temperatures here near the equator is warm so vines typically are planted at altitudes above 500m to provide a suitable cooler climate for grapegrowing. Low rainfall makes irrigation a necessity in the vineyards and vines are planted on higher pergolas to avoid the hot earth. 

Perhaps no other country is so strongly associated with a single grape variety as Argentina is with Malbec. Originally from Cahors in France, Malbec is a grape that produces full-bodied, brambly red wines. That’s not to say there aren’t good Argentinian wines made from other grape varieties.  In fact, over the last 30 years, the industry has moved towards planting more international varieties due to the many joint venture wineries that are popping up in every region. Bonarda, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot are just some examples of varietals growing in popularity.  With white wines, the dominant varietal here is Torrontes, a waxy, peachy, and floral grape that tends to be produced to be full bodied and dry. 

If there is a national style, Argentinian red wines definitely lean more towards the robust and oaky end of the spectrum, and the pricier and more prestigious the wine gets, the more pronounced this becomes. There are some great wines in this style, but if it’s not to your liking, there are also plenty of unoaked and elegant Argentinian wines to choose from.  In the Uco Valley and Patagonia wine regions, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are being made in a more restrained style, once again made only possible by the elevation of the vineyards. 

Vines in Argentina

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