As grape harvests across Mendoza, Patagonia and the north-west provinces are in full motion, that can only mean one thing: it’s time for a new batch of wines to start reaching store shelves and restaurant cavas. And who can we trust for a solid opinion on floral aromas and tobacco notes? Sommeliers, that’s who. Some of Argentina’s top wine experts – already established or coming through the ranks – talk about their work in this flourishing industry.
The term “New World” is a pretty intriguing concept when it comes to Argentine winemaking given that its history stretches back some four and a half centuries. As with much of the Americas, it’s a story that involves Spanish conquistadors, Catholic missionaries, European migrants and, more latterly, the coming of the railway. To put this into perspective, the English Tudor monarch King Henry VIII had only just died when the first vitis vinifera cuttings (the wine grape vine) were planted in what was to become Argentine soil.
Restaurateur, sommelier and consultant Aldo Graziani of Aldo’s Vinoteca fame talks to Andrew Catchpole about a life immersed in Argentinian wine. Q: What sparked your love of wine? Aldo: “In Argentina the wine culture is very old, you grow up with wine in your house every day…”
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…”
This Christmas we’re trading the turkey for asado, mince pies for pan dulce and After Eights for turrón – and we want YOU to enjoy this real Argentinian Christmas with us.
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.
Had the Americans put the democrat John Kerry in the White House instead of re-electing George Bush in 2004, things might have been very different. How different is impossible to say, but it certainly changed the life of Michael Evans, one of Kerry’s campaign managers. Desperate for a break after the election defeat, Evans bought a return ticket from Los Angeles to Buenos Aires. “I came literally for a vacation and just expected to be here a couple of weeks.” Eight years on, he’s still there.
As the second biggest wine region in Argentina, San Juan is the source of one in five bottles of Argentine wine and has around 50,000 hectares (120,000 acres) of vineyards. The first plantings were made by the Spanish soon after the city of San Juan de la Frontera was founded in 1562, and probably a few decades before vines spread further south. Its longest surviving winery…