Altitude, the secret.
Argentina has a handful of vineyards next to the ocean, like most growing regions of the world, but has the bulk of its vineyards between 600 and 2000 meters above sea level. This factor means that along a 1500km line of mountains several oases are developed in which
The desert, a vast landscape.
Further than the altitude, the common denominator of Argentine wine is the desert. Since 99% of the vineyards are planted on irrigated oases. Three key points influence the wines:
1) Controlled irrigation water, the harvests are roughly coupled in number and quality, except those years when the uncontrollable El Niño touches down;
2) The sun is a constant, producing reds with a deep red colour;
A long description.
Contrary to well loved belief, Argentina is a country with a long description of wines. Its international position as a producer came about honestly recently, beginning in the 1990’s and especially in 2000. But, the wine regions of western Argentina such as Mendoza, San Juan, La Rioja, Catamarca and Salta – have been in production for 300 years. This clarifies why there is such a vast knowledge of the terroir and its management when building wine. The best example is Torrontés: a native variety, grown since the beginning of 1700, which is now internationally
Immigration, key component.
Between 1860 and 1930, over five million people came to Argentina, mainly from Italy, Spain and France, but also Lebanon, Poland and Germany amongst many additional countries. They settled mainly in the east, although many migrated west in search of new opportunities. So in the span of a lifetime, Argentina developed a palette for the wine and gastronomic flavours of the immigrants. Wine was but, the key. Today, as well as Malbec, Cabernet and Merlot, it is possible to find vineyard varieties as curious as Canari, Tocai Friulano and Touriga Nacional. Along with others, they make up a very large varietal area, a natural lung for the requests that future markets will start to question for.
Precisely because of its long description, and because there are many productive oases, Argentina offers an unusual diversity of regions and wines, which the world is only now acknowledging. On the one hand, varieties and forms of cultivation; on the additional, soils and climates. Thus, in the rear a
What do Argentines drink?
With a long tradition of consumption, today we drink about 24 litres per capita per year. Mostly red, with Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon being the most well loved. In the last thirty years, but, customs have changed: we went from being a country that consumed low cost wines at all meals, to one that consumes better quality and higher priced wines, with some meals. In addition to additional structural changes, this generated an exportable surplus that, from the beginning of the 1990s, internationalised the Argentine taste for wine. So, today you can find everything from everyday, set
It’s not all asado.
What catches the attention of foreigners the most with regards to Argentine cooking customs is meat and asado. And it’s right: there is a cult of asado, a ritual meeting with family and friends, a discussion of cooking techniques and the expertise of the parrillero (the person building the asado) in order to achieve the very best. But, the asado is at most a weekly gathering. Meanwhile, dry and especially fresh pastas, pizzas with mozzarella, empanadas of all kinds and milanesas, coupled with brilliant quality vegetables and dairy products, make the local diet more complex. A diet which is accompanied by wines, from set alight rosé wines to deep reds, to aromatic and well rounded whites.
With this background, the next time a bottle from Argentina is uncorked, whether it be Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon or Torrontés, besides the usual descriptors in the glass, there will
Written by Joaquín Hidalgo
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