Argentina’s wine world in the midst of beautiful mountainsArgentina’s wine world in the midst of beautiful mountains

Argentina and the success of Malbec

Mendoza

Malbec is perfectly at home in Mendoza, Argentina’s best-known wine-growing region.Malbec is perfectly at home in Mendoza, Argentina’s best-known wine-growing region.

Malbec is perfectly at home in Argentina’s best-known wine-growing region.

Argentina’s top wines grow in the shadow of the majestic Andes.

New world no more! Argentina can look back on over 400 years of history as a wine-producing country. As early as the 16th century the Spanish conquistadors brought grapevines to the country – they needed wine for the Holy Mass. They found ideal conditions in the foothills of the Andes. In 1561, they founded the city of Mendoza and planted the first vineyards around it. Soon the locals also started producing wine, irrigation channels were dug and the first export routes to the capital Buenos Aires and the neighbouring countries of Chile and Bolivia were built.

The country experienced a second development surge in the 19th century. European immigrants, many of them from Italy, Spain or France, came across the pond with knowledge of wine and viticulture or even with seedlings in their luggage. In 1853, a state agricultural school was established in Mendoza, headed by a Frenchman. He established French grape varieties in the region – an important cornerstone for the current success of the Argentinian wine industry.

The quality revolution of the 1990s

For a long time, however, the focus was not on quality. Instead, they produced large quantities of cheap wine for the thirsty domestic market. This changed with the advent of beer and soft drinks. Domestic consumption fell rapidly: from 90 litres of wine (!) per capita in 1970 to 55 litres in 1991. The vineyard area shrank by more than a third during this time. What was a heavy blow economically was a blessing in terms of quality: this marked the beginning of the quality era in Argentinean viticulture. In 1983, after the end of the dictatorship, foreign investors came into the country with expertise and money. And so Argentina as a wine nation has a lot of top quality to offer today.

From Patagonia to the high mountains

The vineyards in the Andes cover more than 210,000 hectares. The vines grow far away from the cities, from rugged Patagonia in the southernmost part of the continent to the high altitudes of the north – where Donald Hess from Switzerland has planted the highest vineyard in the world: his Bodegas Colomé winery. Argentina’s trump card is its differences in altitude. These create an extraordinarily diverse jigsaw of soils and microclimates. So every grape variety has its very own favourite spot. The climate is continental, which is reflected in considerable temperature differences between day and night. This allows the grapes to ripen slowly and evenly. Other quality ingredients are the barren soils, which grapevines love, and the clean meltwater from the Andes.

Mendoza, the new home of Malbec

The country’s best-known wine-growing region is still Mendoza. Here, in the shadow of the Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas (6,960 metres), over 70 per cent of Argentinian wine is produced. The region’s flagship variety and Argentina’s flagship grape is the dark-fruited, structurally strong Malbec. This French «import» feels more at home there than anywhere else in the world – even more so than in its native Cahors in south-west France. Many winemakers blend it with Cabernet Sauvignon. San Juan, which lies to the north of Mendoza and enjoys a somewhat warmer climate, follows in the ranking of the largest wine regions. Syrah has become the flagship red wine here in recent years.

Among the white wines, Torrontés stands out. This is an indigenous variety that produces wonderfully floral wines. Their stomping grounds are the high altitudes of the regions of La Rioja (not to be confused with the wine region of the same name in Spain) and Salta. Here, the grapes also benefit from increased UV radiation – their flavour becomes particularly intense.

Wines from Argentina
  1. - +
    Argentina, Mendoza
    2020
    70 % Corvina, 30 % Malbec

    75 cl
    Corbec – Tinto de Argentina, Masi Tupungato
    Special Price CHF23.00 netto n Regular Price CHF29.00

    20%

  2. - +
    Argentina, Mendoza
    2021
    85 % Malbec, 15 % Corvina

    75 cl
    Passo Doble Tierra Soleada – Tinto de Argentina, Masi Tupungato
    Special Price CHF9.00 netto n Regular Price CHF12.00

    25%

  3. - +
    Argentina, Mendoza
    2022
    60 % Pinot grigio / Pinot gris / Grauburgunder, 40 % Torrontés

    75 cl
    Passo Blanco – Blanco de Argentina, Masi Tupungato
    CHF10.50
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