Argentina is a wine lover’s paradise filled with varied, sweeping landscapes and nearly year-long sunshine in some regions. Some of the most premium wines are produced in the western Mendoza/San Juan wine region in central Argentina, and in the northern Salta/Cafayate province. These areas have large and small-scale Bodega’s (vineyards) offering wine tastings, wine tours, gourmet dining and cooking classes.
Mendoza alone produces approximately two-thirds of the country’s entire wine production due to the average 300 days of sunshine per year, and arid terroir, high altitude grape growing, and old vine Malbec. Some of Argentina’s best winegrowing areas are typically located between 3,000 to 5,000 feet above sea level. Cafayate on the other hand, receives an average of less than 250 mm of precipitation per year, making it a wonderful grape growing area as well.
I was able to tour both areas, during my South American travels, and arrived in Argentina early into my budding love for wine. I am happy to say I learned (and tasted) a lot during my travels and it grew my love for viniculture. I’d like to share a bit of an intro to Argentinian wine’s to get you started on the right bottle.
Malbec is a favourite Argentinian wine, especially from the Mendoza region. The fines in this area were some of the first which were imported from Bordeaux as early as 1860. This means that Mendoza’s winegrowers have 140 years of experience growing Malbec in the ideal desert terroir. Malbec is a dry red, with flavours of blackberry, plum, and black cherry, as well as chocolate and leather.
Best paired with: Steak and chorizo sausage dishes.
Cabernet is my personal favourite wine, originally from the Bordeaux region of France, it is one of the premium wines established in South America now as well. This is a strong, full-bodied wine with rich flavours of black currant and earthy, dusty notes. Best to buy something a little older and let it breathe to avoid the high tannin levels of the younger wines.
Best served with: Beef and lamb dishes
Also called Shiraz, Syrah is a powerful, woody wine predominantly grown in the San Juan province. It is good for lengthy savouring and to balance strong flavours in meals. It features a deep, nearly black colour with a berry aroma and due to being aged in casks, has a wooden flavour with notes of plum, black cherry, clove and black pepper.
Best served with: Game meat, turkey, sausages and mustard sauces
Another Argentinian staple wine, Torrontes originates on the shores of the Mediterranean but grows wonderfully in Argentina’s northern province. It produces a fresh, fruity, aromatic wine that is quite dry and similar to a Viognier wine.
Best served with: Smoked meats, mild-medium cheeses, seafood and spicy dishes
Similar to the popular Riesling wine but lesser-known outside of Argentina. Semillon wines have a sweet, creamy taste with flavours of honey, vanilla and lanolin. This grape is found mainly in the Mendoza area and is often used to make premium ice wine.
Best served with: Chicken dishes and salads
This wine is crisp, dry, and refreshing with a herbal and citrus aroma. It is originally from the Loire Valley of France and popular with experienced wine lovers because of its pronounced flavours. The wine ranges in style from light and dry to full and sweet.
Best served with: Seafood and cheeses such as goat cheese
Argentina is one of my favorite wine-producing countries in the world, both to travel as well as to wine tour. I absolutely loved the Mendoza area and would recommend it be high up on your viticulture bucket list.