Argentina is the fifth-largest producer of wine in the world. Three-quarters of this comes from Mendoza, making it one of the most productive wine regions on earth. It outstrips Bordeaux with ease and, ironically, does so with a grape that is native to the great French region but almost extinct there. This is Malbec, and along with Chardonnay, it is spearheading Mendoza's assault on the international scene.Read More
Mendoza has established a reputation for rich, robust red wines made approachable by the influence of oak. The whites have traditionally been light and fragrant, with the Torrontés grape excelling at this style, but the ever willing Chardonnay can be coaxed to greater depths. Both red and white wines represent excellent value for money, though only the very best, as yet, possess the capacity for ageing.
For red wines, Malbec has almost single-handedly carved out a market for Mendoza in the world market. It has been crucial to Argentina's success and will deservedly remain so. Cabernet Sauvignon has also been a triumph, whilst Merlot, Shiraz, Sangiovese, Bonarda and even Pinot Noir are meeting with exciting results. Chardonnay has found a natural home high up in the foothills of the Andes, and Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Pinot Grigio and Viognier are all doing well. It is Torrontés, however, that promises to give Argentina a signature white grape.
The vineyards of Mendoza are closer to Santiago in Chile than they are to Buenos Aires, but they are on the opposite side of the Andes and, aside from the need to channel meltwater for irrigation, conditions are very different. Without the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean, the Argentinian side of the Andes is much hotter. Altitude is used to counter this and vineyards are often planted at well over a thousand metres. This is a trend that continues and significant micro-climates are constantly being discovered at these heights.