Argentinian Wine

10 December, 2012

Finca Alluvia Doña Paula - Gualtallary

“I think both Torrontes and Bonarda have the Argentinian DNA and they represent their origin very well, as Malbec does. 

“The best Argentinian wines are not being produced with single varieties alone. They also come from special terriors and they are red and white blends,”says Del Popolo.

Most agree about Malbec but not everyone is in accord as to the alternatives.

Barrios says: “We see a lot of potential for Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc as well as Bonarda and Torrontes.”

Bodegas Salentein chief winemaker José Galante adds: “I think Argentina has an opportunity to show its potential with varieties such as Cabernet and Chardonnay. Also with its Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon blends.”

He continues: “In my 30 years experience with Chardonnay in Mendoza, the high altitude vineyards in the cool region of Uco valley demonstrate we can produce world-class Chardonnay with a real Argentinian identity, such as our Salentein Reserve Chardonnay or our new Salentein Single Vineyard Chardonnay that came from the highest vineyard in Mendoza. At 1,605m above sea level our San Pablo estate has a special microclimate of cool weather and 500mm of rain a year (double the amount in the rest of Mendoza) and much higher relative humidity – ideal to obtain a great natural acidity and citric and mineral character in our Chardonnay.”

Galante adds: “Producers in Mendoza have been working hard for the past couple of years to produce an outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon that can position Argentina as a distinctive choice in the first-class Cabernet world. At Salentein we are focused on working hard in the vineyard using the benefits of our climate at 1,050m to obtain a ‘great expression’ of Cabernet Sauvignon from this cool, high-altitude region,” he says.

Torrontes and Bonarda

“I think Torrontes and also Bonarda can provide great options for everyday consumption and excellent value for money. Torrontes offers a totally different option in the world of white wines. But Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and blends of Malbec with Cabernet are the best options for Argentina to compete in the world wine markets, always led by its flagship Malbec that I’m sure that we can continue growing in the knowledge of this great variety,” concludes Galante.

Back to Del Popolo with his ‘BTM’ (better than Malbec) and the micro-regional varietal approach. “The best examples of that are Cabernet Franc blended with Malbec, both from Gualtallary in the Uco valley, or Petit Verdot with Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec from Agrelo in Luján or Malbec and Syrah from Altamira in Uco.

“They are special red blends that, in many cases, are better than their components alone,”says Del Popolo. “In the very high Uco, again Gualtallary, white blends made with Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling embrace clearly the meaning of minerality as exponents of rocky calcareous soils interacting with moderate cool climate.”

He also sees potential for Chardonnay and Viognier in warmer locations, possibly on soils with more clay.

On a more cautionary note, James Forbes, buying and marketing director at UK agent Stevens Garnier, says the reputation of the famous Mendoza clone, Argentinian Chardonnay, has perhaps so far failed to excite the UK market in particular. The former head of Wines of Argentina in the UK says Finca Flichman, which he now represents, has a new premium Chardonnay under the Paisaje and Reserve labels which will, he says, make an impactful debut in the UK. He adds: “I hope the trade will take the opportunity to try them and see what Argentina can really do with Chardonnay.”

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