August 13th, 2014
Argentina is a South American powerhouse in wine – the fifth largest wine country in the world! Over the past 10-15 years Argentina’s wine market has changed drastically. Back in 2000, Argentina’s winemakers focused on quantity rather than quality. Over the past 15 years, however, more investment has been poured into Argentina’s wine production than in the 50 years prior. This investment, coming alongside expertise from places like France, California, and even neighboring Chile, is making Argentinian wine something to be excited about. Argentinian wine exports to the U.S. has tripled since 2002, and is growing as more and more wine makers make wine for export. There is still room for growth, however, as 90% of wine made in Argentina stays for local consumption.
Malbec’s success story has risen the importance of the Mendoza region in the red wine world. Mendoza produces over 2/3 of the wine from Argentina, and the Malbec grape is the highest percentage of that wine production. Malbec is a smooth, easy-drinking grape with rich, sometimes spicy, and dense fruity flavors. This lends it to be very popular and palate-friendly.
In 1993, the Mendoza sub region of Lujan de Cuyo was the first controlled appellation established in Mendoza. This is a high altitude wine region with great quality wines, and still often at great budget prices. The wineries in Mendoza require a lot of irrigation, as there are only 8 inches of rainfall per year in Argentina, but much water comes from melted snowcaps in the Andes every spring and summer.
Wine production and exportation struggled during the political turmoil and military dictatorships on the political level in Argentina from the 1960s – 1980s, but we can all be glad that Argentinian winemakers persevered and now bring fabulous wines to our shelves, and your home!