As Argentina is a country made up of immigrants for the most part, it makes perfect sense that its grapes (excluding Torrontés) are also documented aliens. Take our dearly beloved Malbec. We all know it originates from Cahors in south-west France, don’t we? That’s right, the Old World has had its hand in defining Argentina’s viniculture, thanks to big hitters Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and of course Malbec – from Salta in the north to Patagonia in the south…
Buenos Aires is known for its bar and café scene, and of course Argentina is famous for its wines, so put these marvels together and what do you get? A godly nectar drink fest fit for a wine-ing king. Whether we are drinking by the glass, by the wine flight, by the bottle or by the case, let’s fill our copa to the brim and explore the city’s best wine-centric spots to drink our porteño lives away.
Following on from our ‘Take 5’ Argentine sommelier focus, The Real Argentina invited five leading sommeliers from around the world to each champion an Argentine grape and its food pairing potential. Andrew Catchpole samples the suggestions.
Argentina is a land of innumerable pleasures. That’s why you will find many who say, “Oh, I came here for a month to learn Spanish… That was 6 years ago.” People stay because, every time they think they’re done, something new turns up that just keeps them hanging on. It could be the meat, the people, the culture, or for many, including me, it could be the wine. Oh, the wine!! Purists may argue that, be it Malbec, Torrontés or Bonarda, wine is never to be touched, tampered with or tarred by any force other than age and temperature, but I beg to differ.
The marriage of Malbec and meat may be as famous as Maradona, but ask five leading Argentine sommeliers to champion any grape and its food pairing potential, and the results give lie to the versatility of Argentina’s diverse wine styles.
In Mendoza, the grape harvest can start any time from the end of January and continue until mid-May, depending upon the varietal and wine a bodega intends to make. Many wineries used to be located in the city of Mendoza, but over the years they have dispersed in a bid to find new terroir, a move that has seen many wind their way south. I’ve travelled to the province three times since February and have compiled this collage of 2013’s harvest across some of the different vineyard areas of Mendoza.
This December, we are counting down our Twelve Wines of Christmas with a new wine every weekday from December 6th to 21st. Feel free to sing along! “On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…”
The appetite-whetting sight and scent of an alfresco Argentine asado is enough to bring out the inner caveman in even the most sophisticated of metropolitan food lover. And nowhere is this more apparent than after a hard day’s wine tasting, out among the vines of Mendoza, as the first sizzle of meat hitting the grill sends a plume of smoky welcome into the crisp Andean air.
It was at a 3,457 metre-high pass, somewhere way to the west of Salta city, after four hours on switchback, rubble-strewn dirt ‘roads’, that the extraordinary immensity of the Andean Alto-Plano really sank in. Admittedly the cocoa leaves that my native driver kept feeding me (for medicinal purposes) probably added to the sense of dizzying awe…
Juicy, brimming with fruit and generally packing a satisfying punch for your peso, Bonarda is emerging from the sideline as an easy-going alternative to Argentina’s flagship red Malbec. It’s perhaps no surprise. After all, the country is awash with the variety, this being the second most widely planted grape in the country.