In the southern hemisphere where the seasons have reversed, the 2018 vintage is already in vats. New Zealand, Australia, Chile and Argentina finish their harvest. In Argentina, the land of King Malbec, where large bodegas are built at the foot of the majestic Andes, time is on the balance sheet. And it is good!
The smile returns for the winegrowers of Mendoza, Argentina's Andean border. At the Rosendo family estate, it is a relief: "The last two years have been catastrophic. Because of the 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 the last few years and are satisfied with a "standard" harvest. For Brigitte, "2018 is a complicated year in the long run. We started harvesting very early and we will finish later. It's tiring, but the harvest is promising".
The Aconcagua country, roof of America, will be back in the air in 2018.
According to the OIV (International Wine Organization), the Argentinean harvest should reach a volume of nearly 13.5 million hectoliters of wine this year; a nice increase of 14.2%, for the South American giant, with quality on the agenda.
The "Mendoza Oasis" is possible thanks to a vast irrigation system that transports water from the nearby Andes Mountains.
The Spanish colonizers imported the vine in the 16th century in Mendoza. Consumption, first local, spread to a national level thanks to the development of transport. Spanish and Italian immigration in the 19th century increased the demand for wine in Argentina. The Mendoza region is equipped with an artificial irrigation network which allows it to develop intensive agriculture and creates the "Mendoza Oasis". The cultivation of the vine then becomes preponderant in the region. Subsequently, the opening of the bodegas to foreign investors completely changed the viticultural structure. Argentina moves from a system of artisanal and family production to industrial production: the wineries modernize and expand; they mainly produce red wine, varietal, young, round, fruity, concentrated, dense, that the new world consumers appreciate.
At the Carinae estate, in the middle of the new thermo-regulated vats, the grapes are pressed with an old vertical press.
In the end, Argentina's wine-growing landscape is little known: diverse and varied, it is part of a great wine-growing tradition. In fact, the phenomenon of concentration and expansion of the cellars does not kill the family estates that make resistance, continue to exist despite everything and produce wines turned towards a local market and proximity. 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 Argentinean wines means discovering a history and a culture: that of an immense country which cultivates the vine at the foot of the Andes, where tradition and modernity, local and foreign, grape varieties and blends, proximity and globalisation, come together. For an ambience across the Atlantic, Argentine red wine can be enjoyed with grilled red meats on the barbecue ... "asado" in Argentina - accompanied by grilled vegetables and corn. Malbec is the flagship grape variety of the country, but many other varieties are successful in Argentina: Syrah, Cabernet-Sauvignon or Merlot are equally worth a visit.
From Cafayate to Patagonia via Mendoza, the beautiful bodegas are numerous, there is only the embarrassment of choice. More discreet and confidential, the small wineries do not lack interest: vinos caseros, vino pateros: this summer, silky curious and open your taste buds!