Argentina has proved to be one of the best and most surprising wine countries in South America and it is the biggest wine producer there. A country of high altitude, where the Malbec grape variety has found a perfect home in the foothills of the Andes mountain range. The production and consumption of wines in the country goes back to the beginning of the 16th century when the first vines of Vitis vinifera were transported to America by Spanish colonisers and later Italian immigrants.
The modern production of wines in Argentina has begun in early 1990 and before that the wines were sold and consumed within the country and now it is competing on the international markets among the best countries like France, Italy, Spain and the United States. Most viticulture in Argentina takes place in Mendoza, where desert landscapes and high altitudes connect to make a terroir that provides aromatic and intensely flavoured red wines. It is considered to be the best quality wine-producing region with soils which are typically poor, desert-like with dusty earth. High elevation viticulture is the standard, with vineyards located between 800 metres and 1100 metres above sea level.
The rest of the most famous wine-growing regions are Salta and San Juan. In Salta wine region is found the highest vineyard in the world, with the amazing 3000 meters above sea level. In terms of grape varieties, of course, the Malbec is almost three-quarters of Argentinian wine production that takes place in Mendoza, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Bonarda, also called Douce Noir. Argentina's white wine star is the Torrontés grape which produces floral, light and crisp wines. Overall the country has managed during the past 10 to 15 years to make a dramatic improvement in quality with results in very interesting and exciting wines.
Argentina is one of the most important wine producing countries in the New World and the largest producer of wine in South America with Mendoza its main wine region. Mendoza, is a vast and varied region, producing some seriously high quality wines due to the vineyards’ high altitude, mainly using Malbec, still the flagship grape, but more and more grapes being planted and used.
Over 70% of Argentinian wines come from Mendoza, due to its position, with the Andes protecting the region from the clouds and ensuring irrigation in the hot season with snow melting water. Other regions are, further north, San Juan which is the second most important region, Salta which is also home to the highest vineyards in the world, Donald Hess's Colomé has some vines at of over 3,000 m asl, and Catamarca. Other wine producing regions in the south, closer to the Atlantic coast, are Rio Negro and Neuquen.
Over the past 20 years, Argentinean wines have slowly raised their bar and now quality is the driver and this approach has allowed Argentina to become a major player in the wine world, not only exporting its wine all over the world, but also becoming one of main wine making country in the world.
For more information about Argentinean wines visit the Wines of Argentina