Why We Love Argentine Wine

Dec 23, 2011
Saveur By David Rosengarten

Argentine_Wine_SaveurSeven new reasons to sample the fruits of this South American country’s vines.

Argentina ranges from the Andes to the Atlantic, from the subtropical north to the sub-Arctic south. Within its vast geography, as mid-19th-century European immigrants discovered, there are great places to grow grapes. But it wasn’t until 2002, when producers began exporting in earnest, that the rest of us got to taste what Argentines had been drinking all along. Argentina now sends nearly 7 million cases of wine to the U.S. yearly, most of it just one varietal: malbec. Big, dark, and often affordable, malbec has appealed to wine drinkers used to rich California reds. In recent years, though, tastes have changed, and Argentine vintners are responding with new ways of making their wines. Here are seven categories of Argentine wine that you’ll want to taste now.

When Michel Aimé Pouget brought the malbec grape from Cahors to Argentina in 1853, winegrowers found that the terroir there could also yield burly reds. Today, as tastes for high alcohol and tannins in wine diminish, Argentines are styling malbec in a more elegant, food-friendly fashion. A good strategy for finding softer, prettier malbecs is to seek out recent vintages. Most malbec is grown in Mendoza, Argentina’s top wine-producing region, located in the central west, where last year’s cold snaps slowed grapes’ ripening, resulting in even, vivid wines that are delicious to drink now. The Recuerdo Malbec 2010 ($22) mixes zesty spice with flamboyant fruit, while Yauquen Malbec 2010 ($12) offers cherry, mineral, and sandalwood notes. Even in the 2009 and 2008 vintages, you can see more gentleness. Susana Balbo Signature Malbec 2008 ($25) delivers earth and funk and balanced acid. The bouquet on the Finca Altamira 2009 ($120) from the acclaimed Bodega Achaval Ferrer is lighter and merrier, with a hint of vanilla, while its velvety mouth shows plums, spice, and a long, powerful finish. Read full article