We all know and love Buenos Aires–and if you don’t, you should. It’s a high energy city known as the Paris of South America that entices us all to visit. About 1,200 kilometres west of this well-known capital you’ll find the Andes mountain range where Argentina’s main wine regions thrive from north to south with diverse and breathtaking vineyard sites. From exciting white wines like Torrontes and Pinot Grigio to the superstar grape Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, Argentina is a mecca for exciting, award winning and delicious wines.
Harnessing the Power of the Andes
If you’re looking to understand why this area is such a haven for premium wines, you’ve come to the right place. A series of natural factors, combined with a deeply rooted popular wine culture, lends Argentine wines their unique identity and quality. The majority of Argentina’s vineyards are planted at high altitudes in the rain shadow of the Andes mountain range – the longest continental mountain range in the world! The Andes extends through seven South American countries, and it goes without saying that Argentina has harnessed the mountain’s power and elegance in their winemaking.
From diverse terroir to extreme altitude, a dry and continental climate, low fertility soils and pure snowmelt water from north to south, Argentina is a region with much to be excited about. In fact, Argentina is the only country that adds altitude as a key factor in what makes their terroir unique. The pillars of terroir include the climate, the soil and the humans that interact with it.
The Importance of Altitude
But what does altitude have to do with great wine? Altitude helps to give wines a distinctive character by serving as a temperature regulator for grape growing. Under stress, grape vines adapt and produce more complex fruit. The solar radiation due to a thinner atmosphere helps to produce wines that have elegance and finesse and grapes grow thicker skins that contribute flavour, colour and texture to the wines. The significant ‘diurnal shift’ – when temperatures shift from high during the day, to cool at night – in these high altitude areas is how wines keep their acidity, which is the backbone of any great premium wine.
Argentina is one of the few continental viticultural areas in the world. With most of its vineyards located in arid areas with dry climates that get plenty of sunshine, there is no need for artificial intervention. The wines from this area are “naturally natural”. There are typically lower yields from the vines – making the wines premium in nature as well.
Grape vines don’t need a lot of rain to produce complex and delicious wine. In Argentina, the main source of irrigation for vineyards is pure meltwater coming from the Andes Mountains. This flowing water from the mountain range allows the wines to be pure by nature’s own design.
Today’s winemakers are building on a 400-year history of winemaking traditions and breaking new ground to reshape the country’s wine offering. The discovery of new geographical indications (GIs) and a sustained investment in soil and climate research are helping winemakers to understand and utilize the natural elements this region offers. New technologies help winemakers to reveal the diversity of Argentina’s terroirs and identify the unique attributes that distinguish Argentine wines from other regions.
Fun Fact: Did you know that dinosaur bones have been found in the south of Argentina? They’re even on display at one of the wineries in that area?
If you’re looking to explore Argentina from the comfort of your home and/or with friends, check out the Limited online exclusive at the LCBO beginning August 27, for a limited time, and have yourself a wine tasting adventure with some of the most fabulous wines from this most unique wine region.
In partnership with: Wines of Argentina