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History

Argentina is the fourth largest producer of wine in the world; ahead of the Chile. The difference between these two southern producers, who share the same latitude, is that the Argentines drink a lot of wine (third largest per capita consumption in the world with 48 liters per person), whereas the Chileans make wine almost exclusively for export. Ninety percent of Argentinian wine is low-quality made solely for local consumption, but since the geological and climatic conditions are ideal for viticulture a few growers are now focused on making quality wines. There are some truly great wines in Argentina but exports account for only about 9.1% of total production. The rest is entirely absorbed by its population of 26 million inhabitants.

Argentina has a long wine-making tradition. Argentina's first wine was cultivated by a Chilean friar in 1556 after he transplanted some vines to the Mendoza province. Cultivation of vines slowly grew from there, but Argentina's wine industry didn't really begin until the 19th century, when many immigrants from Europe settled in Argentina. These immigrants, mostly from Italy, planted the first large-scale vineyards in the late 1800's.

Climate

Argentina enjoys a great climate for winemaking: warm days and cool nights allow the grapes to slowly develop and ripen; while the Andes Mountains, which divide Argentina and Chile, provide unlimited water for natural irrigation. In recent years, the country has made strides in quality and value, and, as the world is quickly learning, Argentina has the capability to produce excellent, full-bodied reds.

The most commonly planted red wine grape varietals are: Malbec, Bonarda, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Barbera and Pinot Noir; with the most common white varietals being: Pedro Ximenez, Torrontes, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Ugni Blanc, Semillon, and Viognier.

Mendoza

Mendoza is the heart of winemaking in Argentina. This dry region lies at the eastern foot of the Andes Mountains. The altitude (1,800 meters) provides an ideal climate: warm, sunny days, cool nights and fog in the fall. Although global wine companies have invested a lot here in recent years, many of the best vineyards are still owned and operated by local families with generations of winemaking experience. Mendoza is known for its Malbecs - deep colored red wines with excellent balance of tannins and fruit.

View wines from Argentina