Argentina – Malbec, Tango & the Hand of God

Argentina has seen considerable investment in its wine industry over the last 30 years, and thankfully we’re reaping the rewards with a number of delicious wines making their way to the UK market.

People often ask for my favourite food and wine combination, and the answer hasn’t changed in years. A good Argentinean Malbec  and a juicy steak fresh from the BBQ. The big bold flavours of the Malbec partner perfectly with the heavy texture of the meat.

Argentina

Although it’s been producing some incredible wines for years, Argentina doesn’t receive the credit it deserves. Most of us know Argentina as the home of Tango and birthplace of Diego Maradona, but don’t often think of it when naming our favourite winemaking regions.

Put simply, the conditions for growing grapes in Argentina are exceptional. Here are just some of the reasons for that:

  • Crystal clear skies, sunshine and cooling breezes.
  • An arid climate with little rainfall means very few diseases and pests.
  • Water melt from the Andes mean the vines still get what they need.
  • Hot days and colt nights suit many grapes especially Torrontes.
  • High altitude meaning maximum sunlight and low humidity

Torrontes – 100% Home Grown

When I think about Argentina, I always think about Malbec first. However Malbec is a Bordeaux variety, despite it taking well to the conditions in Argentina.

Argentina can claim ownership of Torrontes however; in fact many believe that Torrontes is the only grape that is 100% Argentinean.

Torrontes is a fragrant, floral white grape that‘s deliciously refreshing. It’s also a rather tasty match with spicy foods. The hot days and colt nights suit this variety, maintaining its natural aromas and flavours.

Malbec – Can we have some?

Argentina has been producing wines for well over 400 years, however it wasn’t until the late 1800’s that Malbec was introduced, and the rest as they say, is history.

The governor of Mendoza at the time was a man named Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. Wanting to improve the offerings from his home territory, he asked a French Agronomist named Miguel Pouget to transport cuttings from France to Argentina. One of those cuttings was Malbec.

You could taste two Argentinean Malbec’s and get two distinct flavour profiles. The central Malbec’s from Mendoza tend to be rich, ripe, and fruity. However a Malbec from somewhere like Rio Negro in the south will have drier tannins like their French counterparts due to the cooler climate.

Variety is the spice of life

If I ever recommend someone to try wines from Argentina, I will always recommend Malbec or Torrontes. However there is so much more to this country than just the two grapes.

Thanks to the climate and some expert wine-making hands, a number of grapes can be produced to excellent standards. Grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio and even Viognier have found success here.

Mendoza is the largest producer, but you’ll also find delicious offerings from San Juan, Rio Negro and the Famatina Valley. Variety is key, as Argentina is the world’s fifth largest wine producer.

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