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Argentina is one of the most successful and prolific winemaking countries in the world, with a huge variety of grapes thriving in its high-altitude climes. But what is it makes Argentine wine so special, and which variety is the best?

Why is Argentinian wine so good?

The high altitude and low humidity of Argentina's wine-growing regions make it the perfect environment for growing high-quality grapes. Vineyards rarely experience grape diseases such as mould, fungi and insect infestations, which commonly affect vineyards in other parts of the world. Not only does this lead to better yields, but it means that fewer pesticides are needed to protect the grapes which help to produce better tasting wine.

What is the name of Argentina's wine region?

Mendoza is Argentina's biggest wine-producing province, with 80% of the country's reds and 65% of its whites being produced here. Its high altitude offers the perfect climate for growing consistently high-quality grapes. Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley, located in the foothills of the Andes, are two key districts within Mendoza that are particularly renowned for their Malbec wines.

What wine is Argentina known for?

Malbec is synonymous with Argentina; it accounts for 23% of all wine produced in the country, and 39% of all red wines. Malbec originated in France and it wasn't until the mid-1800s that it was introduced to South America. It was later still, from 2000, that Argentina became known for the quality of its Malbec as the wine began to be exported all over the world.

What is the best Argentinian white wine?

Torrontés is Argentina's most well-known white wine, accounting for just under 5% of the country's total wine production. It is considered Argentina's signature white since it is not produced anywhere else in the world. Torrontés grapes were created by combining Muscat and Crilla Chica (often known as 'uva negra') grapes. There are three distinct varieties of Torrontés - Mendocino, Sanjuanino, and Riojano, with the latter being the most cultivated and best known.

What do Argentinian wines taste like?

With such a big variety of wines produced in Argentina, there is no easy way to describe the array of flavours that these wines have to offer. Let's take a look at the flavour profiles of some of the country's most popular wines.

Popular red wines of Argentina

Malbec

An intensely dark red wine with aromas of cherries, plums, raisins and black pepper, Malbec is a rich, fruity and sweet wine packed with flavour. Thanks to its ageing in oak, it develops notes of chocolate, coffee and vanilla. This versatile wine pairs well with a wide variety of dishes, but it goes particularly well with Argentine barbecue.

Bonarda

Bonarda, known as Douce Noir in France, is known for its very deep colour and full body. It has aromas of raspberry, tobacco and aniseed, and is both juicy and acidic for a smooth, easy drink. It pairs well with chicken, pork and beef, and is a great match for sweet and sour dishes.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Popular all over the world, Cabernet Sauvignon produced in Argentina varies greatly in flavour depending on where it is grown. In the Northwest regions, it develops an incredible depth of colour and notes of blackberry and green pepper. In central-west Cuyo it has fruitier characteristics and notes of ripe currants. In southern Argentina, the Cabernet Sauvignon tends to takes on an earthiness with hints of leather and tobacco.

Tempranillo

This wine has Spanish roots but its production in Argentina has seen it find great favour internationally. It has strong tannins and is aged in American oak in line with the Spanish winemaking style, which helps it to develop notes of liquorice and toast. In its younger form, it exhibits blackberry and raspberry aromas. Tempranillo goes well with tomato-based sauces and smoky, meaty dishes.

Popular white wines of Argentina

Torrontés

A light yellow wine often with green hues, Torrontés a fresh, acidic flavour and aromas of rose, jasmine and geranium. Mendocino and Sanjuanino varieties tend to be lighter, while Riojano is drier and fruitier. Torrontés pairs well with seafood and spicy foods.

Chardonnay

This versatile wine is one of Argentina's most traditional varieties. It is known for its fresh, elegant flavour which often has notes of apple and tropical fruits. It goes well with nutty, buttery flavours, shellfish, and white fish.

Sauvignon Blanc

This wine is known for its vegetative growth which is reflected in its flavour. It has notes reminiscent of citrus, chlorophyll and vegetables, but it occasionally offers white fruit aromas. It is an acidic, dry wine, refreshing and crisp, that goes well with green vegetables and herby dishes.

Popular pinks wines of Argentina

Criollo

Although winemakers are still experimenting a great deal with Criollo grapes, there is a growing market for this variety. Criollo grapes are used to produce a range of wines from sparkling rosés to light reds. They tend to be light, fruity, fresh, and easy to drink.

Cereza

The high yields of Cereza vines make it a common grape used to make affordable wine in bulk. It is also often used as a concentrated grape base for vermouth production. Cereza has a rustic flavour which means it is not known as a fine wine, but it is often drunk by locals around the dinner table due to its affordability.

Where to taste the best wine in Argentina

Since Mendoza is the biggest wine-producing region of Argentina, it is here that you ought to visit if you want to sample the best of Argentinian wines. Be sure to take a wine tasting experience to sample the region's most delicious Malbec and Torrontés, or take a tour of a vineyard to see how the wine is produced from grape to glass.

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