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Home arrow Wine regions arrow Argentina

Argentina

Argentina has a wine history closely linked to the Latin origin of much of its population. Like other traditional wine producer countries, Argentina has a large volume of consumption per capita, among the highest in the world. Meanwhile, production of wine has long been exclusively oriented towards quantity, more concerned about the price of wines than quality. Since the late 1980s the Argentina wine industry is moving towards production of quality wines, with the contribution of technology and know-how, resulting in quality wines. The wines of Argentina occupy the 3rd rank of the most sold in Quebec.

 

 

History of Wine in Argentina

The first vines were planted in Argentina in1557 by missionaries in the region of Cuyo. As elsewhere, local growing of the vine is the result of the Church, who needed wine for the Eucharist. Viticulture the progressed in response to local demand.
In the years 1885-1886, railroad construction promotes wine production by facilitating the transport of wine to the city markets.
In 1895, the population of Argentina is officially 316 000 citizens. Of these, 248 000 citizens are natives of Italy. They bring with them their wine tradition, especially as regards the production and consumption.
During the 19th century, French and Italian immigrants moved into the semi-desert of Mendoza and began to irrigate the land with water down from the Andes.
By the end of the 19th century, Argentina became an important producer and a major consumer of table wines, like European countries from which came many immigrants. In 1926, the annual per capita consumption is 62 liters. In the 1970s, it reached 90 liters per year per capita.
In 1959, the "Law on wine" led to the establishment in Mendoza, then the largest producer of wine, el Instituto Nacional de Vitivinicultura (the National Institute of Vitivinicultura) whose function is to regulate production and marketing of wine.
Since the 1980s, domestic consumption began to decline. It decreased from 60 liters per capita per year in 1986 to 54 liters in the early 1990s. The wine industry is in crisis. The alternative is producers is to move towards quality production and export.
From the 1990s, local producers as Nicolas Catena turn to quality. Foreign investments are also beginning to arrive via the establishment of foreign companies, such as Moët et Chardon, Pernod-Ricard and Kendall-Jackson.
In the early 2000s, Argentina is the fourth largest consuming country with nearly 40 liters of wine per capita per year. It has now slipped to 6th place with wine consumption per capita of 28 liters per year.
In 2005, Argentina is the 5th largest producer country, closely followed by Australia. Argentina still produces table wine for its domestic market and South American markets. Argentina is also a leading producer of concentrated must.
Argentina is in 2007 the third largest producer of wine selled in Quebec with 8.40% market share, after France (32.67%) and Italy (22.83%), but before Spain (8.30%), USA (6.31%), Australia (6.19%), Canada (5.49%) and Chile (2.69%).



The legislation of wines in Argentina

Argentina has set in 1999 of a national legislative framework to regulate the production of wine managed by the Instituto Nacional de Vitivinicultura. The legislative system is not developed and there are no specific rules regulating the practices of different wine-producing areas recognized by law. For example, there are no rules limiting production yield per hectare. The Argentina system recognizes three distinct types of classifications:

Indicación of Procedencia (Indication of Source).
Indicación Geografica (Geographical Indication): high-end wines, fermented and bottled in the region.
Denominación Controlada de Origen (Denomination of Origin) wines of superior quality.
The names of origin may be listed on labels when 100% of the wine comes from the place indicated.
The variety of grape can be indicated on the label when it represents at least 85% of the wine and if it is mentioned in the decree.
The year must be that 85% of the wine comes from the harvest year to date and is mentioned on the label.



Grape varieties of Argentine wines

Red wines from Argentina


The red wines from Argentina, except for the Malbec, are produced from the main international varietals:

Malbec: The Argentine grape varieties.
Bonarda: Old variety used for table wine
Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot
Syrah
Sangiovese
Tempranillo



White wines from Argentina

The white wines of Argentina are made mostly from grapes:
Pedro Gimenez
Torrontes
Sémillion
Chenin
Ugni blanc
Chardonnay
Muscat



Characteristics of Chilean wines

Throughout its history, Argentina was mainly oriented towards production of wine quantity, little concerned for the quality. Since the 1990s, many Bodegas took the turn of quality. This shift was first made in equipment and processes of winemaking. It is now changing the vineyards.

Argentina wines exported abroad do not correspond to local traditions. Often, these wines are labeled with the varietal, not the region. In addition, almost 70% of the wines is produced from the only region of Mendoza. The wines produced from the Malbec varietal in red and white Torrontes are the tipical wines of Argentina. Also, Argentina produces a lot of sparkling wines, mainly for South American markets.

The main wine producing regions of Argentina are:
- Calchaquies Valley (or Salta) at 1 500 m, is one of the highest vineyards in the world. The vineyard covers nearly 1,500 hectares. The key is the Torrontes grape and other varietals for the production of white wine, but also red wine.

- Region-Chilecito Nonogasta is located in the province of La Rioja. It is the oldest wine region of Argentina.

- The Valley of Tulum, in the San Juan, covers 48 900 hectares and produced primarily wines.

- The province of Mendoza, the largest wine region of Argentina (144 954 hectares, over 70% of the total) is divided into several sub-regions:


- Area high Mendoza Rio, which vignoble covers 23 500 hectares. The Malbec is the main varietal. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah are present.
- Uco Valley, south-east of the city of Mendoza, includes 8 100 hectares of vineyards. This region distinguishes by its production of high quality wine.
- The southern zone which vineyard represents 26 200 hectares and 240 wineries. This region is the main production region of Chenin but also other varieties such as Bonarda.
- The eastern zone, with 71 000 hectares of vineyards and 480 wineries, is the largest production area of wine from Mendoza. White grapes and rosé as Pedro Gimenez and Cereza are represented. For the reds, the typical varietal is the Bonarda.
- The northern zone includes the areas of lower elevations on the Rio Mendoza. In general, the region produces white wine such as Chenin, the Pedro Gimenez, the Ugni Blanc and Torrontes. Nearly 15 000 hectares of vineyards are planted in the area.
- The Rio Negro Valley region or Patagonia is the latest wine region of Argentina.
 

Evaluations - Argentine

Alma Negra 2013, $19.95
Desierto La Pampa 25/5 Cabernet Franc 2013, $19.65
Broquel Malbec 2013, $16.95
Masi Tupungato Passo Blanco 2015, $14.95
© 2017 Sommelier Virtuel, Montréal, Québec