So, as we’ve been saying, we’re back in the new world for #NWTW Week 5, and it’s our first trip of the year to South America’s other power house of wine production: Argentina.
Funny when you use a term like “new world” you conjure up images of mulleted fellas planting the first vineyards in the 1990s, but it was actually back in the 16th Century it all started in Argentina they reckon. The big boom though happened in the 19th Century when there was mass immigration from Italy and Spain (Basques and Catalans). They were missing their home comforts a bit too much and starting planting some vines where they were settling, which happened to be in and around the Andes. Useful that!
Having the Andes there is really helpful giving most of the vineyards up there (some up as high as 2km above sea level in the north!) the altitude they need. Up high the climate tends to be a bit cooler, so you don’t get sunburnt grapes. The Andes also act as a bit of a rain catcher, so you tend not to get massive rainfall in the area. Great in one way because you get lovely long growing periods for the grapes to develop fully, just need to make sure you irrigate properly and you’re sorted.
So, these Italians and Spaniards were doing a great job, but mostly drinking everything they made (and why not?!). It wasn’t til the 1990s, and the arrival of the open economy, that external investment has shown up, and now Argentina’s wine makers have all the machines and process they need. And they’re using it really well.
They managed to grow international varieties to a really high standard. The reds of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah range from solid export driven efforts to some phenomenal premium efforts. In my own view though, their Chardonnay is off the charts. If you get a chance to try one, given the ability to use the altitude, but also the heat (close to the equator), you get one of the better chardonnays you’ll try. All that ABC rubbish can bore off!
They’ve also managed to unearth a couple of national champions. If you’re a fan of your steaks, you’ll most likely have been to an Argentinian restaurant. And what do you drink? Malbec! Of course you do! It’s starting to be planted more around the world (US and France having a good go), but Argentina has the brand right there. And the world loves it.
And we’re pretty sure the world is ready to love the other national champion of Argentina. Our “New Wine This Week”; Torrontés.
Other posts in NWTW Week 5: