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Wine varieties to try in Argentina

Argentina is not just Malbec… there are a handful of interesting wine varieties to try and you’ll be surprised with all that is on offer in the white, red, pink and sparkling sectors. Here is a rundown of the best wine varieties to try in Argentina.

Cabernet Franc

This has been the ‘new’ variety for quite some time now. It’s not new anymore… but it has proved it was worth the hype. Cabernet Franc is producing some of the most exciting wines at the moment that are garnering some of the highest attention. Intense, spicy and so very different to other Cabernet Francs in the world. This is not a cheap wine to produce and the best tend to come with rather steep price tags. One to splash out on.

Recommended: Pulenta Estate, Bodega Chaman, Bodega Aleanna (El Gran Enemigo), Catena Zapata (Adrianna), Andeluna (Passionado), Casarena (Single Vineyard).

 

Chardonnay in Argentina, an emerging quality wineChardonnay

There are some firm believers that Argentina can produce great Chardonnays, and there are some doubters too. My recommendation is try from the top and you certainly won’t be disappointed. The bottles recommended below all dedicate a lot of time and love to maintaining the bright fruit of Chardonnay with a flinty mineral characteristic and a smooth and seductive nuance of barrel aging. Serious Chardonnays are the way to go in Argentina, and best to pick from the tippy top heights of the Uco Valley.

Recommended: Catena Zapata (White Bones & White Stones), Monteviejo (Lindaflor), Bressia (Lagrima de Canela), Cobos (Bramare).

 

Petit Verdot

Mendoza’s odd ball in the family. Traditionally just used as a very small part of the classic Bordeaux blend, like Malbec and Cabernet Franc it has found its own solo identity in Mendoza being used as a single variety wine. Petit Verdot though is a little like marmite – some hate it, some love it. Dare you to try and see which camp you fall on.

Recommended: Decero, Ruca Malen, Vistalba (Tomero), Bodega Chaman.

Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at 13.11.00Torrontes

The undisputed Queen of Argentine wine: Torrontes is pretty, floral, exuberant and memorable. Easy to drink and even better to party with. It typically comes from the lofty heights of Cafayate in Salta, northern Argentina, but you can also find good Torrontes in La Rioja, San Juan and Mendoza. We’ve seen all sorts of trends of Torrontes come and go, but this wine is best when made how nature intended: a lady’s wine. A machista wouldn’t be far from the truth when describing her beautiful first impression, but when you get down to it, she is quite simple.

Recommended: Colome, Merced del Estero, Tukma, Bodegas Echart, Susana Balbo/Dominio del Plata, Passionate Wines.

 

Cabernet Sauvignon

This classic variety has a long history battling with Malbec as the most esteemed wine in the country. Let’s be honest, it lost. However there are many advocates of Cab still working hard to prove to the world that Argentina can be one of the finest producers of this, the most popular red variety worldwide.

Recommended: Cobos, Catena Zapata, Clos de Chacras, Kaiken.

 

Semillon

At one stage, this was the most planted white variety in Argentina. While stocks may be dwindling, it is still prominent in white table wine and is a rather overlooked variety. A couple winemakers though have started paying more serious attention to the neglected variety and are making some great examples that tell a story of Argentina’s past and perhaps hint towards the future.

Recommended: Mendel, Nieto Senetiner (DOC), Passionate Wines.

 

Bonarda, one of Argentina's more unique wine varietiesBonarda

Another of Argentina’s most widely planted grapes, Bonarda has been the workhorse of Argentine reds for as long as most vines remember. It is used widely in blends and table wines, but it also makes an incredibly approachable and enjoyable single red: fruit forward, lush and easy drinking.

Recommended: Cara Sur, Passionate Wine, Caligliori, El Enemigo, Zuccardi, Mairena, Altos Las Hormigas.

 

Pinot Noir

A notoriously tricky variety to grow, Pinot Noir is sublime when it is done well and disappointing when it is not. Expect to pay some top dollar for the good ones. The most renowned region for Argentine Pinot is Patagonia, although Gualtallary in the Uco Valley is catching up making some excellent value and distinct Pinot Noir.

Recommended: Patagonia – Bodega Chacra, Humberto Canale. Mendoza – Zorzal.

 

Malbec

Malbec was probably already on your bucket list and it deserves to stay there – the undoubted ruler of Argentine wine. Whether you prefer a light, fruity and uncomplicated Malbec, a dense, jammy and complex Malbec or a smooth, dark and elegant Malbec, it’s all here! It would be impossible to tell you the best Malbec, but here are some of the top producers that are personal faves and show a great variety for Argentina’s flagship.

Recommended: Monteviejo (Lindaflor, La Violette), Catena Zapata (Single Vineyards), Altos Las Hormigas, Matias Riccitelli, Zuccardi, Renacer, Serrera, Tapiz, Alta Vista (Single Vineyards).

Amanda Barnes

Amanda Barnes

Amanda Barnes is a British journalist who has been living in the Southern Hemisphere for the last six years, has tried over 500 Malbecs, eaten over 600 Chilean oysters and still has a functioning liver and kidneys (as far as she knows).
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