Argentina is South America’s second-largest country (behind Brazil) by size. It covers a large portion of the bottom third of the continent, and it’s known for incredible food and gorgeous landscapes. For wine enthusiasts, it’s also known for its delicious Malbec wines.
The country has many ideal areas in which to grow grapes, most of which sit in the foothills of the Andes Mountains. The world’s fifth-largest wine producer, the elevation (900 meters above sea level on average) helps the grapes retain freshness, while the warm, dry winds help deter pests and other problems, such as mold and fungus. The snowmelt runoff from the mountains ensures plenty of moisture in the soil.
There’s more to Argentinian wine than Malbec, though. The South American climate makes the country an ideal place for growing all kinds of different grapes. In this Argentina wine guide, you’ll learn more about Argentinian wine, the various regions within the country, and some of the dominant wines it produces.
The History of Argentinian Wine
Believe it or not, the history of Argentinian wine goes back approximately 500 years. It started when the Spanish brought grapes with them through the San Juan and Mendoza regions in the mid-1500s. The first grapes grown in Argentinian soil are actually the ancestors of the Mission grapes that grow in California today. Argentinians have used these grapes for hundreds of years.
While winemaking started in Argentina in the 1500s, the industry started to explode in the 1900s. It’s a significant part of what helped Argentina rise to the eighth-most prosperous country in the world. Exports did decline slightly in the mid-1900s but rose again in the 1990s.
Argentina is well-known for its Malbec wines, and once the international market discovered them, there was the “Malbec boom.” People across the world fell in love with these wines, and demand increased exponentially. The appreciation for it also has wine enthusiasts curious about what else the country has to offer. As it turns out, there are several incredible wine varieties to enjoy from Argentina.
Argentina Wine Regions
There are several regions in Argentina that have ideal conditions for growing grapes. Here are a few of the most notable ones:
Mendoza is Argentina’s largest and most important wine region, encompassing over 395,000 acres of grapes. It also features four distinct wine-producing areas: Maipu, Eastern Mendoza, Luján de Cuyo, and the Uco Valley. The region is best known for Malbec, but it also grows several other grape varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and more.
The wineries in this region produce around 80% of the country’s wine. Part of what makes this region so ideal for growing grapes is the higher elevation, and the weather is typically sunny and dry. As one of the world’s most significant wine capitals, it also sees a lot of tourism with more than a million visitors annually.
On the border of the Mendoza region sits the second-most prominent wine-producing region in Argentina — San Juan. It’s even hotter and drier than the Mendoza region, but it does get natural irrigation from the San Juan and Jachal rivers, along with the meltwater from the mountains. While it’s ideal for growing several varieties of wine, the mainstay of this region is the Syrah grape.
The Salta region of Argentina, located in the northern part of the country, is an up-and-coming one. It sits at the highest elevation of any other wine region, which leaves it susceptible to some of the most extreme weather in the country, including super sunny days and freezing cold nights. The high elevations lead to more acidic wines.
While it’s one of the smaller wine-producing areas of Argentina, Salta is well-known for its Torrontés grapes. In warmer regions, these grapes could become overripe very quickly. However, the cooler winds in the Salta region keep things more balanced.
Patagonia is one of the smaller wine regions of Argentina, home to only 2% of the country’s vineyards. The winters here are cold and snowy, and the growing season is long and warm.
The result is grapes that ripen slowly, giving them time to lock in their delightful flavors. At the same time, the shifts in weather from day to night lock in their acidity. In essence, it’s an ideal climate for growing high-quality grapes.
Argentina Wine Guide: The Dominant Types of Wine
As a wine enthusiast, you may already be familiar with Argentinian Malbec wines. They’re full-bodied and rather intense, featuring a smooth texture and notes of blueberries and cherries. These wines are the country’s most sought-after varieties, but they’re far from the only ones. Here are a few other dominant wine varieties produced in Argentina that you don’t want to miss:
The warm, dry climate of Argentina makes the country an ideal location for Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. They ripen easily and feature notes of cherry, blackberry, pepper, vanilla, and mint. Like Malbec, the Cabernet Sauvignon wines from Argentina are rich and full-bodied.
As the world’s third-most widely planted grape variety, Chardonnay grapes are a staple in most wine-producing regions. That includes the wine-growing areas of Argentina.
The Chardonnay grapes of Argentina have adapted to the country’s climate, resulting in a slightly different taste and feel than Chardonnay wines of other countries. The warm days and cool nights give the grapes more time to rest, allowing them to capture more subtle flavors. They’re also typically more acidic, giving these wines a crisp, refreshing backbone.
Argentina is the only country in the world that produces Torrontés wines. Similar to Malbec, it’s one of the country’s most well-known and unique varieties. It’s a dry, aromatic white wine that’s both fruity and floral, featuring notes of peach, lemon, rose, and geranium.
Looking to Try Something New? Try an Argentinian Wine
Malbecs from Argentina are delightful and delicious, but they’re only one of the many incredible wines the country has to offer. The climate makes Argentina an ideal region for many varieties of grapes, and the wines produced here are some of the best in the world. If you’re looking for something a little different than what you’re used to, they’re well worth the investment.
No matter if you’re looking for an Argentinian wine or a wine from another country, JJ Buckley Fine Wines has a broad selection of some of the best wines in the world. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party, an afternoon get-together, or you want something to enjoy with your favorite book in the evening, we have what you need. If you’re not quite sure where to start, our wine specialists will be more than happy to help you find the perfect bottle.
Visit JJ Buckley Fine Wines today to find your next bottle of wine!