Argentina's vineyards were originally
established by Spanish monks when they arrived in the 1500's.
The primary wine production area is in the Mendoza Valley which
is located on the eastern side of the Andes mountain range. The
vineyards are at higher altitudes than most other growing regions
(ranging from 1500 to over 5000 feet). They receive virtually
no rainfall and as a result, the vineyards are irrigated.
Wine consumption in Argentina is
very high and rivals that of European countries. Most of the wine
produced has been for local consumption and has been of mediocre
quality. Argentina did not have high enough wines of high quality
to attract the export market. That changed at the end of the 1990's
as international companies began investing heavily in the region.
They recognized the opportunity to produce higher quality wines
at attractive prices. Argentina ranks fifth in the world (and
first in South America) in total wine production but since less
than 10% of its wines are exported, much of the world never tastes
Most vineyards in Argentina do not
face the problem of Phylloxera
and do not graft the European grape varieties onto North American
rootstocks as is necessary in most of the world. The soils in
most of Argentina's vineyards are very high in mineral content
which adds complexity to the taste of the wines. The temperatures
during the growing season are quite warm during the day and the
nights are cool.
Argentina is more known for it's
red wines than whites. Malbec,
are among the best wines produced here with Malbec as the star
in many wineries. Argentinean regulations require that wines labeled
with a varietal name contain 90% of that varietal.