In the southern hemisphere, where the seasons have reversed, the 2018 vintage is already in vats. New Zealand, Australia, Chile and Argentina are finishing their harvests. In Argentina, the land of the Malbec king, where large bodegas rise at the foot of the majestic Andes mountain range, time is running out. And he's good!
The smile is back on the faces of the winegrowers of Mendoza, the Andean border of Argentina. At the Rosendo family estate, it's a relief: "The last two years have been catastrophic. Due to bad weather, 2016 was a blank year; then in 2017, the harvest was very low. For us, 2018 is a renewal: we don't even have enough vats for all the grapes.
Brigitte and Philippe, on the Carinae estate, have not suffered the climatic hazards of recent years and are satisfied with a "standard" harvest. For Brigitte, "2018 is a complicated year in terms of length. We started harvesting very early and we will finish later. It's tiring, but the harvest is promising.
The country of Aconcagua, the roof of America, returns to smiles in 2018
According to the OIV (International Wine Organisation), the Argentine harvest should reach a volume of nearly 13.5 million hectolitres of wine this year; a fine increase of 14.2% for the South American giant, with a high quality.
The "Mendoza Oasis" is possible thanks to a vast irrigation system that transports water from the neighbouring Andes Cordillera
The Spanish colonizers imported the vine in the 16th century in Mendoza. Consumption, initially local, is spreading to a national level thanks to the development of transport. The Spanish and Italian immigration of the 19th century increased the demand for wine in Argentina. The Mendoza region is equipped with an artificial irrigation network that allows it to develop intensive agriculture and creates the "Mendoza oasis". Vine cultivation then became predominant in the region. Subsequently, the opening of bodegas to foreign investors completely changed the wine structure. Argentina is moving from a system of artisanal and family production to industrial production: the cellars are modernizing and expanding; they mainly produce red wine, young, round, fruity, concentrated, dense, that new global consumers appreciate.
At the Carinae estate, in the middle of the new thermo-regulated vats, the grapes are pressed with an old vertical press
The Argentine wine-growing landscape is finally little known: diverse and varied, it is part of a great wine-growing tradition. Indeed, the phenomenon of concentration and expansion of cellars does not kill the family estates that are resisting, continue to exist despite everything and produce wines turned towards a local and local market. These more modest estates produce blended wines, bet on ageing, try to bring back some historical grape varieties and carry a strong new environmental culture.
The art of grilling in Argentina to accompany red wine
Tasting Argentine wines means discovering a history and culture: that of a vast country that cultivates vines at the foot of the Andes mountain range, where tradition and modernity, local and foreign, grape varieties and blends, proximity and globalisation, coexist. For an atmosphere on the other side of the Atlantic, Argentine red wine can be enjoyed with grilled red meat on the barbecue..... "asado" in Argentina - served with grilled vegetables and corn. Malbec is the country's flagship grape variety, but many other varieties are successful in Argentina: Syrah, Cabernet-Sauvignon and Merlot are equally worth a visit.
From Cafayate to Patagonia via Mendoza, there are many beautiful bodegas, there is only the embarrassment of choice. More discreet and confidential, the small estates are not lacking in interest: vinos caseros, vino pateros: this summer, silky curious and open your taste buds!
Manon Mouly (for Les Grappes)