Argentina, although not ranking with France, Australia and California in world winemaking, is none the less an important wine producing country. Argentina has growing conditions that are similar to Australia, with much of the vines being grown in almost desert like conditions. The sheer size of the country, combined with the hot summers and cold winters, results in a wide variety of wines. Argentina can be conveniently divided into three main regions, each of which are further divided into provinces. Andean North West, Cuyo, and Southern Region are summarised below. Wine Contents. Front Page.
Andean North West.
The conditions of this region allow a wide range of wines to be grown. It is centred on the Tropic of Capricorn, and although this would normally not be ideal for wine making, the elevation provided by the Andes makes it possible with some of the vineyards exceeding 2000 metres in elevation.
Parts of Salta, unlike some other regions, enjoy a relatively high rainfall. Over hundreds of years these have created the canyons which now support grape varieties including Torrontes, Chardonnay, Malbec and Cabernet. Many of the provinces best wines are blended around these varieties, and are recognised all over the world.
La Rioja Province.
This region is bordered by the Velasco Mountains in the east, and the Famatina Mountains in the west, and provides a warm, dry climate. Wine is produced by four departments within La Rioja. Over half the plantings are of the Torrontes Riojana variety, indeed almost all the grapes are red. Other varieties include Barbera and Merlot, which make up another quarter of production, Malbec and Cabernet.
The Cuyo is a rapidly emerging wine producing region, partly because of a considerable amount of financial investment in the area. The region stretches from the San Juan province to the Colorado river.
A large region, credited with 1063 wineries, although not all of these are exporting. The foothills and lower valleys of the mountains provide ideal grape growing conditions. Mendoza itself is further divided into wine zones or departments, based on location and elevation. There are five zones; Northern and Eastern zones which are close to the city, furthest away from the Andes and hence less than 650 metres in elevation. The high zone, which includes the departments of Lujan and Maipu, and the Uco Valley and Southern zone, near San Rafael.
The department of Maipu contains two of the worlds largest wineries. It is mainly a red wine producer, with Malbec representing just over a third. The other varieties include Cabernet, Bonarda, Tempranilla andto a lesser extent, Sangiovese. Of the white varieties, Chenin and Chardonnay are most prominent.
The department of Lujan de Cuyo, centered on the city of Lujan, straddles the Mendoza river. The elevation of the vineyards varies from between 900 to 1100 metres, thus this region is the most prominent producing area within Mendoza region. Many predict that wineries such as Agrelo, Carrodilla, Perdriel, Ugarteche and Vistalba could become worldwide reknowned producers.
The primary advantage of this region is that it will allow grapes to ripen slowly for a late harvest. This results in wines that are full of fruit flavours and aromas. Principle wines are Chardonnay and the excellent Malbec.
San Rafael is situated on relatively flat plains about 700 metres above sea level. Warm summers and cool winters, combined with one of the higher rainfall averages, combine to make an ideal region for wineries. The region is rapidly establishing a reputation for fine Chenin and Malbec wines, although other varietals and particularly sparkling wines are increasing.
This area is still establishing itself, lacking somewhat in funding and prone to late frosts. Of more than 40 wineries, there are currently only one that sells on international markets.