The world is awash with examples of inter-continental agricultural meddling, whereby opportunistically minded entrepreneurs and traders have transplanted plant species in the pursuit of profit and convenience, sustenance and sales. Of course vines are no different, with thirsty European immigrants taking them to almost every feasible corner of the world where they might successfully adapt and produce decent grapes for wine.
You know it’s almost spring in Buenos Aires when wine fair season kicks off – it’s either the jacaranda in bloom or a small glass of fermented grape juice. From wines with altitude to bubbles only, mix and match these wine fairs to suit your palate. Or simply rock up to them all! Here’s our rundown of Argentina’s wine affairs calendar for 2014.
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.
Vendimia or “grape harvest” holds huge importance in all 18 corners of the province, bringing together mendocinos from Malargüe in the south to Rivadavia in the east and Luján de Cuyo in the west. Named one of the top 10 harvest celebrations in the world by National Geographic, the main aim is to give thanks to the patron saint of grape harvests, the Virgen de la Carrodilla.
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.
Few people beyond South American shores realise that Argentina is the fifth biggest wine producer in the world, making myriad varieties from vineyards that stretch from lofty Salta in the North West to the windswept river valleys of Patagonia in the south. From aromatic, spicy Torrontés to supple Pinot Noirs, by way of Viognier, Chardonnay, Cabernets Franc and Sauvingon, plus up-and-coming grapes such as Bonarda and Tempranillo, Argentina’s rich heritage of vines delivers a surprising wealth of 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.