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All about Argentinian Wine
The first vines were brought to Argentina by the Spanish Conquistadors in the 16th century. Other European immigrants (the French, the Italians) also brought vines from their native lands and a thriving winemaking industry developed.
Argentina is the fifth largest wine producer in the world and is famous for it's organic wines (the lack of humidity in the Argentinian wine regions means that the grapes are rarely attacked by fungus and grape diseases, which reduces the need for pesticides and enables organic growing).
Argentina Wine Regions
The main wine region is Mendoza, which is near the Andes mountains. Most of the grapes grown are red wine grapes of the Malbec variety, which originated in France, as well as Cabernet Sauvignion, Tempranilo, and white wine grapes of the Ceriza and Criolla Grande varieties.
The San Juan region is the second largest producer growing red wine grapes such as Syrah and Bonarda and white wine grapes such as Ceriza.
The La Rioja region grows a local white wine grape called Torrontés Riojano as well Moscatel de Alexandrias (also a white grape).
The Northwestern regions produce red wines from Cabernet Sauvignon and white wines from the Torrontés Riojano grape.
The Malbec grape variety originally came from south west France and was introduced into Argentina in the mid 19th century. Malbec is actually a slang term derived from mal bec (bad beak) which gives you an idea of what the French thought of it. Unsurprisingly, it's not actually grown much in France.
However, over the last 100 years, Argentinian wine producers improved the quality of the wine made from Malbec.
The grape is small, black and fruity. One of the characteristics of Argentina is that it doesn't rain much, which mean that the vineyard can control the concentration of sugar in the grapes and thus the sweetness and fruitiness. Malbec needs a lot of sun to ripen and is suited to the Argentinian climate.
The wine produced from the Malbex grape is smooth and fruity and goes well with steak.
Argentinian White Wine
The best Argentinian white white is made from a sub-variety of the Torrontés grape - Torrontés Riojano, which is grown in the La Rioja region of Argentina and also in the Mendoza region.
The Torrontés grape is believed to be a hybrid of Muscat of Alexandria and Criolla Chica, and does particularly well in the dry climate of Argentina. It's the closest you can get to a national Argentinian grape.
It produces a dry white wine with a rich bold flavour and is often drunk as an aperitif..