Go on, pampas yourself

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 October, 2011, 12:00am
 

Argentina is famed for the tango, football (Diego Maradona) and Evita Peron. A lesser known fact is that it's the fifth-largest wine producer.

Historically, more than 90 per cent of its wines were destined for domestic consumption - they tended to be large volume and of lower quality. In recent years, producers have seen the potential of Argentina's wines and this has led to increased foreign investment, modernisation of techniques and a rise in quality.

Argentinian wines now offer high quality and great value for money.

The influx of immigrants from Spain and Italy has influenced the grapes planted. Italian varieties such as sangiovese barbera abound, with a sprinkling of Spanish varieties like tempranillo. Argentina's signature variety is malbec, originally from Cahors in southwest France, although often associated with Bordeaux blends. The wines are known for their dense, concentrated dark fruit, savoury flavours, and are full bodied, often with high alcohol levels. Torrontes is a is perfumed, fragrant and refreshing white. If you like muscat you will like torrontes.

Mendoza

This is Argentina's largest wine producing region. The semi-arid conditions and cool nights make it an ideal region to plant grapes. In the shadow of the Andes, the vineyards rely on meltwater from the snowcapped mountains for irrigation. A diverse range of wines is made. Try the region's malbec. The wines range from everyday drinking wines to those capable of long-term ageing. Tempranillo produce rich, ripe, fruity more flamboyant wines compared to their Spanish counterparts. For a comparative tasting try a Spanish tempranillo from Ribera del Duero or Rioja and a Mendoza tempranillo.

San Juan

This is the second-largest wine producing area by volume. San Juan is hotter and drier than Mendoza. It is known for the production of fortified wines, and high volume table wine. Syrah is well suited to the warmer region, producing affordable easy-to-drink wine.

Patagonia

In the south of the country, this is the coolest wine region. The wines are leaner, with higher acidity and a tight structure. Try the pinot noirs and the sauvignon blanc.

Salta

The region is famed for its perfumed torrontes. The wines make an excellent aperitif. If you enjoy sauvignon, with its exuberant, aromatic flavours, try a torrontes the next time for a change.

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