Mendoza, Argentina, is one of the 8 world wine capitals, according to the Great Wine Capitals Global Network. No wonder the country enjoys such a good reputation in this regard! Feel like being tempted by some good Argentinean wines? Here is a selection of the best wineries of the country, in the heights of the Andes but also in Patagonia.
San Pedro de Yacochuya belongs to the Etchart family, one of the pioneers of the Cafayate region in northern Argentina.One of its particularities is that its vineyards are located at an altitude of over 2,000 metres, making it one of the highest bodegas in the world! Although the specialty of the region is torrontés, the vineyard has only 2 hectares of this grape variety for 9 hectares of malbec, 4 hectares of cabernet sauvignon and 1 hectare of tannat. In 1988 Arnold Etchart asked the famous French oenologist Michel Rolland to join him and two years later this collaboration gave birth to one of the most prestigious wines of Argentina: the Arnaldo B. Etchart Cosecha 1989. The bodega is doing so well that in 2001 it exports its first bottles, after being bought by the Pernod Ricard group in 1996.
What is drunk there: the Yacochuya, the icon of the bodega, a blend of 90% malbec and 10% cabernet sauvignon. It has a beautiful purple color as well as notes of licorice, blueberries, blackberries, and spices. You can't miss the torrontés, emblem of Cafayate. It is composed only of this single grape variety and has pronounced fruity aromas.
Definitely fallen in love with Argentina, Michel Rolland decided to set up his own winery in the Valle de Uco, 100 km from Mendoza, with Bordeaux's Jean-Michel Arcaute. The winery covers 800 hectares at an altitude of 1,100 metres, and benefits from rich soil and ideal exposure. Very soon, three other wineries joined the first one to form the Clos de los Siete. Although each of these 4 wineries produces and blends its own wine, they all devote themselves to the production of Clos de los Siete. Irrigation of the vines is carried out in droplets to provide the exact amount of water they need, and espalier cultivation allows the optimum development of the foliage area.Here, the vine is worked like that of a Bordeaux Grand Cru Classé: green harvesting, leaf thinning and plots of only 1 to 3 hectares for a rigorously controlled yield. Finally, following the harvest, the wine is stored in stainless steel tanks and thermo-regulated before being stored in French oak barrels for its fermentation. All these attentions make Clos de los Siete an exceptional wine.
What we drink there: you will have guessed it by yourself, the Clos de los Siete of course! It is composed of 57% malbec, 18% merlot, 14% cabernet-sauvignon, 9% syrah and 2% petit-verdot. A subtle blend for maximum pleasure.
The Bodega Tapiz elaborates one of the best wines of Argentina. Located in the province of Mendoza, its vineyards extend from 920 to 1,400 meters above sea level, at the foot of the Andes Cordillera.It is one of the most technologically advanced wineries in Argentina, which nevertheless strives to work with respect for the environment, using ecologically sustainable techniques. The owners count on the support of Jean-Claude Berrouet, the first permanent oenologist of Château Petrus, who, having retired, has decided to become a consultant for Argentina. His philosophy is to let the terroir express itself, favouring the elegance of a wine rather than its provenance. Tapiz wines can be found in several regions of the world: in France, the United States, Australia and China.
What we drink there : the two main grape varieties of the bodega are malbec and torrontés but it also grows cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah and chardonnay. Most of the vintages are single-varietal, which makes the originality of the bodega.
And also: the Tapiz family also produces olive oil! So when you feel the numbness that comes with wine tasting, go for a walk among the olive trees.
The Bodega Salentein is one of the best known and most important wineries in Argentina: 150,000 hectares of vines for 900 winegrowers. It is located in the Valle de Uco and has been designed according to very precise codes: its cross shape reduces the travel time between the different stages of winemaking and is also a symbol of the valley's religious roots; it is a tribute to the snow-covered peaks of the Andes, which provide irrigation and life to the vines.The oenologist of this winery is none other than José Galante, an Argentinean icon of winemaking. He strives to preserve, in his nectars, all the aromas and flavours of the fruit through a gentle and slow winemaking process. The wines made in this way are true emblems of the Valle de Uco and take a little bit of this land with them in their bottles.
What to drink: Salentein offers an impressive variety of wines, from entry-level to luxury lines. The Portillo line presents very fruity and easy to drink wines, from rosé to malbec and white. These are the most affordable wines. The Salentein reserves reveal power and finesse and finally, the very top of the range Numina and Primus are powerful and generous wines.
As its name suggests, this bodega is located at the end of the world, in Patagonian lands. Indeed, Argentina can boast of being one of the southernmost vineyards in the world! The particular geographical situation of this vineyard gives it several advantages: a wide temperature range due to hot, sunny days and cool nights, which gives the wine its colour, acidity, aromas and structure.; the particularly intense sun rays which allow the grapes to ripen quickly; and the very low humidity which keeps the vines in healthy conditions. Patagonia is closer to the arid desert than to the fertile Burgundy, but efficient irrigation technology makes it possible to create a real oasis and to cultivate the vines.
What we drink there: the Newen Malbec Reservado 2015, a strong, coated Argentinean red. It has a woody character and an acidity that tones the wine. A success supervised, unsurprisingly, by Michel Rolland.
If there is one thing that has been retained from this selection of the best Argentinean bodegas, it is that the synergies between France and Argentina are particularly important in the wine world!
Agathe (Argentina Excepción)
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