Argentina is a household name when it comes to wines.
It is, in fact, the fifth largest wine producer in the world. Given this, it’s hardly astonishing that Argentina has a lush winemaking history, one that can be traced back to the dawn of the sixteenth century.
Despite almost 500 years of winemaking heritage, however, it was only fairly recently that the country gained some appreciation in the global market. Additionally, it was only in 2010 when their government finally declared wine as Argentina’s national liquor.
If you want to shed more light on Argentina’s fascinating wine history, or if you want to learn more about its extensive wine selection, then continue reading and we’ll tell you everything you need to know.
The Evolution of Argentinian Wine Industry
It was the Spaniards who first brought wine into Argentinian land. In 1556, they carried wine cuttings to the Mendoza and San Juan regions. Today, Mendoza is one of the most significant wine regions in Argentina
The first ever wine to be cultivated in Argentina was a predecessor of the California Mission grape. Thus, for more than three centuries, this particular grape found its way into Argentinian wines.
Nearly 400 years later, their wine industry had improved immensely, so much so that a huge chunk of their economic wealth was obtained from wines.
Unfortunately, the Great Depression soon struck the country, which resulted in a drastic decline of their wine industry.
It wasn’t until the 1990s, when Argentina really recovered. It was also during this time when they started exporting their wines.
And so, slowly but surely, Argentina finally reclaimed its rightful position in the wine industry.
Argentinian Wine Regions
There are five primary wine regions in Argentina today.
- Mendoza. Mendoza is Argentina’s leading wine region, spanning almost 360,000 acres. Its wineries also comprise a whopping 80% of the country’s total wine production.
Its success largely owes to its dry and sunny climate and to its high altitude, which makes the nights in Mendoza exceedingly cold. Additionally, the rarity of rain in this region makes it perfect for cultivating the highly famous Malbec grapes, which is extremely vulnerable to rot and mildew.
Aside from Malbec, other grapes that are abundant in Mendoza are Syrah, Torrontes, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay.
- San Juan. This is the second winery region in Argentina, which spans for more than 116,000 acres of land.
San Juan is even more temperate and more arid than Mendoza, an attribute that makes it ideal for growing Syrah grapes. Aside from this, other grapes being cultivated are Bonarda and Douce noir grapes.
- La Rioja. La Rioja is one of the oldest wine regions in Argentina. When the first Spanish missionaries flocked to Argentina, they planted some grapes in this province.
As with the two previous regions, La Rioja also features a high altitude, resulting to overnight ripening, a prolonged growing season, and the perfect blend of acidity and ripeness in the grapes.
- Northern Argentina. Catamarca and Salta, two of the country’s most well-known wineries, are nestled in Northern Argentina.
These two regions produce Torrontes, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tannat grapes.
These two wineries are both characterized by low latitudes and high altitudes. In Catamarca, the profuse sunlight means a longer ripening period, which allows the grapes to preserve their acidity.
On the other hand, in Salta, the grapes grown are bright, with full-bodied flavors and good acidity.
- Patagonia. Patagonia covers almost 10,000 acres of the southern Argentinian land.
The altitude in Patagonia is much lower as compared to the other regions. In effect, vines can only be cultivated in close proximity to rivers.
This region is famed for its cold-climate grapes, such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Semillon, Torrentes Riojano, and Malbec. Furthermore, a considerable portion of the grapes used for Argentinian sparkling wines hails from this area.
Most Famous Argentinian Wines
Although Argentina is especially well-known for Malbec, a flavorful and fruity wine with a deep color, it also has a vast collection of other wines. Here are some of them:
- Chardonnay. Chardonnay is usually cultivated in the colder regions the country, such as areas with higher altitudes.
- Rosé. This is also known as Rosado. This wine is immensely famous in the Malbec region. Rose wine is often produced using Syrah, Merlot, or Cabernet grapes.
- Malbec. As mentioned earlier, Malbec is the most well-known of the Argentinian wines. It’s characterized by a deep color and fruity, plum-like flavors.
- Merlot. Merlot grapes are grown in almost every region in Argentina. These wines are typified by the aroma of spices, blackcurrants, pepper, and cedar.
- Pinot Noir. Argentina’s Pinot Noir wines are marvelous because they are high quality and affordable.
- Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc wines often come with fresh herbal scents, distinct spice flavors, and sophisticated floral aromas.
Argentinian wine is truly spectacular, one that is a product of centuries of winemaking experience. If you want to have a sampling of Argentina’s wine, then try out our Malbec variant above.