Argentinian wines

Argentinian wines have been grown and produced since the Spanish arrived in the New World, bringing their grape vines with them. The Catholic monks in Argentina ensured that the vineyards would grow and prosper, since the monks needed a steady supply of wine to celebrate Holy Mass.

The terroir of Argentinian wines, or the characteristics imparted by the soil, climate, and water, produced grapes that were ideal for wine, especially in the shadow of the Andes Mountains, and the vineyards grew rapidly. Additional varietals of grapes were introduced in the 1800s, along with improved methods of cultivating these grapes. The new varietals of Argentinian wines found the Andean region as hospitable as the first vines, and vineyards were also planted in the Colorado River region.

The late 1800s saw a vast influx of European immigrants, many of whom were skilled at growing and making wine. The skilled wine-growers, many of whom brought their own grape vines with them, contributed to the high quality of fine Argentinian wines, the best known of which is Malbec wine. They also brought the secret of the traditional Champagne method of making sparkling wine, adding an exceptional sparkling wine to the roster of Argentinian wines.

Regions that grow Argentinian wines

Malbec wine from Argentina with food pairing

Argentinian Malbec wines as well as other sorts are grown in three different regions: North, Cuyo, and Patagonia.

Because of Argentina's ideal temperature, low levels of rain and humidity, and long growing season with abundant sunshine, many varietals of grapes thrived, one of which is Malbec wine grape. With the Andes Mountains blocking the winds from the delicate grape vines, and the exceptional soil providing superb nutrition, the grapes developed natural sweetness and flavor. For this reason, Argentinian wines do not need to add sugar to enhance their sweetness. In fact, it is illegal to add sugar to Argentinian Malbec wines.

The Argentinian wines grown in the Northern region are grown in some of the highest vineyards in the world, with the lowest vineyards being 1000 meters above sea level, and the highest an amazing 3000 meters above sea level. To put these altitudes in perspective, if you are more 1000 meters above sea level you need to prepare food with special "high altitude" directions, because the thinning air has such a dramatic effect on the temperature at which water boils. The altitude at which they're grown has a definite effect on these Argentinian wines, especially Malbec wine. But the terroir of the Northern region is also important, with a warm, dry climate that boasts high temperatures and very little rain, coupled with sand soils that provide excellent drainage when it does rain.

Unique to these high altitude vineyards is the Torrontes varietal of grape used in Argentinian wines, primarily grown in the Cafayate Valley, in the Salta province. Other important locations in this region are Belen, Santa María, and Tinogasta, in the Catamarca province.

In the native language of Argentine, the name of the Cuyo region means "the land of deserts." If the Northern region produces dramatic Argentinian wines because of its altitude, the Cuyo region produces dramatic Argentinian Malbec wines because of the desert conditions. The driest region for winegrowing in Argentina, it is also the most fertile for growing Malbec wine. It is located at the base of the Andes Mountains, and is irrigated by the runoff of those mountains snowmelt. The minimal rainfall and purity of irrigation from snowmelt offer a consistency of growth for both vines and grape clusters, as well as predictable concentrations of both sugar and tannin in the Malbec wine grapes. The Argentina wines varietal most commonly grown here is the Malbec wine grape, often considered to be the signature grape of Argentina.

The La Rioja province in Cuyo boasts the Famatina Valley, the most famous source of Argentinian wines, as well as the high-end sparkling Argentinian wines made from the Torrontes Riojano grapes. More than 80% of the Argentinian wines are produced from the Mendoza province, with the vineyards around the Mendoza River nicknamed the "first wine" vineyards since these Argentinian wines have achieved international prominence. Many internationally financed and boutique wineries have been established in this area. After the Mendoza province, the San Juan province produces the most Argentinian wines. With hot days and cold nights, the grapes grown here have intense flavor and are extremely high in healthy polyphenols. The San Juan Syrah is gaining international recognition.

Patagonia is not just the farthest south region of wine-growing in Argentina. It is the farthest south wine-growing region anywhere on the planet. With extremely cold winters and summers that remain cool at night, the grapes - especially Malbec, grown here ripen slowly. As a result, Malbec wine grapes are filled with fragrant aromas, and their combination of acidity and sugar harmonizes beautifully. Malbec wines from this region have an intensity of aromas that is unequalled by any other wine.

The region of Patagonia is comprised of the three provinces of La Pampa, Neuquen and Rio Negro. The province of Neuquen produces only top quality wine, with Argentina Malbec wines from this province having deep red color, full bodies, and intense fruit tastes. The elegant Pinot Noir is one of the most notable of Argentinian wines. The oldest wine-producing province of Patagonia is the Rio Negro province. The slowly ripened grapes have excellent balance, resulting in uniquely aromatic Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc white Argentinian wines. The red Argentinian wines of note include the Malbec wines, Merlot, and Pinot Noir, which all have intense aromas, especially Malbec wine.

hodling glass of Malbec wine

Although there are many fine Argentinian wines, the two wines for which the country is rightly known, and with which it has achieved international dominance, are Malbec wines and Torrontes. When you go to shop for wine from Argentina, these are the two wines you should focus your attention on. Fortunately, with Argentinian wines gaining international recognition, you should have no trouble finding a quality wine from Argentina in your local wine shop or you can buy from our online wine store.

The Malbec varietal of grape is often called the black grape, since its skin is such a dark purple that it appears black. Therefore, when choosing a Malbec wine, the first thing to look for is the color. Malbec wine should be intense and dark in color. The Argentina Malbec wines produced in the high-altitude vineyards of the Northern and Cuyo regions have an excellent balance of acidity, sweetness, and color. While the tannins are abundant, they are not so overpowering as to make the wine bitter. Fine Malbec wines of Argentina are characterized by aromas of cherries, strawberries, or plums, and tastes of plum, raisin, ripe cherries, and black pepper. Occasionally, the wine may have a marmalade flavor, based on how soon the grapes were harvested. Malbec wines made in Argentina feel warm, soft, and sweet in the mouth.

The explosive fruit flavors grow progressive more complex the longer the wine is aged. Young Malbec wines are not aged in oak, and are intended to be drunk quickly. If Malbec wine has been aged in oak for a few months, it can be kept for 2 or possibly even 3 years. Malbec wines that were aged in oak for longer than that can continue to age in the bottle for up to 10 years.

The unique flavor of Torrontes comes only from Argentina. Each region of Argentina that produces this wine makes a slightly different variety. The most prestigious Torrontes are the fruity Argentinian wines from the Cafayate Valley that linger in the mouth. Other Torrontes are the award-winning dry and fruity Torrontes Riojano, the Torrontes Mendocino, and the Torront's Sanjuanino, produced in the La Rioja, Mendoza, and San Juan provinces, respectively.

No matter which province produces the Torront's, these Argentinian wines should be light yellow in color, with occasional gold or green hues. The wine features light rose, jasmine, or geranium aromas, with a multitude of fruit tastes and hints of honey and oregano. It should have a sweet smell, and a refreshingly acidic finish.

Serving Argentinian wines

Argentinian wines - how to serve

Argentinian wines - such as Malbec for instance, are served according to standard practices for red, white, and sparkling wines. Because of their robust flavors and aromas, Argentinian wines especially Malbec wines can be paired with much stronger dishes than their European or other New World counterparts.

The eye-catching color of deep ruby red with hints of violet makes Malbec wines perfect for any meal, that's why many wine connoisseurs call Malbec wine a feast for the eyes as well as the mouth. Unlike most European or other New World red wines, the tannins are not aggressive, making Malbec wine easy to drink and silky in the mouth. Thus Malbec wine can be paired with equal success with any red meat dish, any type of grilled meat, Italian cuisine, or hard cheeses. As such, Malbec wines are excellent to accompany a barbecue, cookout, so you can easily have Malbec wine with a family meal of spaghetti in tomato sauce.

Torrontes can be paired with the standard delicate dishes of fish and shellfish common to white wines. However, because of its intense flavor, it can be paired with dishes that have aromatic or flavorful sauces as well. It can even pair nicely with aromatic and spicy cuisines such as Chinese, Indian, and Thai, while Malbec wines cannot.

Since these wines - especially Malbec wine, are so flavorful, you may even choose to serve Malbec before or after the meal, allowing their full range of flavors to be savored.