Argentina is famed for its bold and fruity everyday reds. But explore a little further and you’ll find that this dynamic country is capable of so much more. A winemaking revolution in the 1990s saw Argentina’s winemakers set their focus firmly on quality over quantity. As a result you are now just as likely to enjoy an elegant white, or a cool-climate cabernet blend as the deservedly iconic Malbec grape.
Principal grapes: Malbec, tempranillo, , syrah and bonarda for red. Chardonnay, torrontés and sauvignon blanc for white.
Read on for our Six to Know facts on Argentine wines; it’s all you need to get started. Still want more? Click here for our Ultimate Buyer’s Guide to Argentina.
Six To Know – Argentine Wine
Though French in origin, 75% of the world’s production of the malbec grape is in Argentina. The style it produces is usually much smoother and silkier than its old world counterpart. But while these easy-drinking malbecs are seen as Argentina’s signature style, there are plenty of elegant examples to be found. The higher-altitude vineyards of Mendoza are home to cooler-climate producers (such as the iconic Bodegas Catena Zapata) creating fresher, more complex examples.
Sunset in Mendoza at Catena Zapata - Argentina
And much more than malbec
You’ll find floral, strawberry-scented tempranillo, fresh apple-tinged chardonnay and peachy torrontés in Argentina’s impressive roster. Cabernet sauvignon, syrah and bonarda also thrive. When it comes to buying, local wine laws have strict stipulations that make it easier to identify single-varietal wines; for a wine to be labelled with a grape name, it must make up at least 80% of the blend.
Argentina's great strength is the quantity of old vineyards it has. Older vines are better adapted to their environment and able to more robustly weather any climatic stress or seasonal problems. In general, grapes from old vines will have a good natural balance between acids and sugar. This results in a more complex flavour profile in the wines.
Argentina has six wine producing regions:
- San Juan
- La Rioja
- Río Negro
See here for a full breakdown of these areas
And its immediately surrounding vineyards make up Argentina’s largest wine producing province by far. Located in the eastern foothills of the Andes, the area is home to some of the highest-altitude vineyards on the planet. Lower, warmer areas produce fruitier white wines, such as chardonnays with mango and guava aromas. Early-ripening chardonnay suits the cooler areas, resulting in appley and fresh wines. Reds from lower altitudes are usually richer and more powerful (Lunlunta Malbec for example) whereas higher altitudes begin to give more floral aromas, such as cedary cabernets from La Consulta.
Argentina is becoming an exciting fine wine hub
Argentina may once have had a ‘cheap ‘n cheerful’ image, but talented growers are increasingly making their mark on the premium market. Producers such as Bodegas Weinert, Mendel, 55malbec and Bodega Catena Zapata are leading the charge with masterfully crafted fine wines.