The Wine Connoisseur: Mendoza — Argentina’s red wine capital
By Bob Lipinski
‘A glass of wine is a great refreshment after a hard day’s work.’ — Ludwig Van Beethoven, 1770-1827, German composer
Mendoza, a grape-growing province in the Cuyo region in the central-western part of the country, directly west of Buenos Aires, was founded in 1561. It is the country’s most important wine-producing area, and its main subregions include Uco Valley, Tupungato, Luján de Cuyo, and Maipú.
Vineyards are planted at the edge of the Andes Mountains, at some of the highest altitudes in the world, with the average site located 2,000 to 3,600 feet above sea level. The climate is desert-like with a mere 9-inches of rain per year, and irrigation is necessary to grow and ripen the grapes.
Mendoza is the largest and most important grape-growing province in Argentina, accounting for 70 percent of wine production, with over 375,000 acres of grapevines planted.
Red grapes account for over half of the entire province’s acreage. Mendoza’s red grapes include Malbec, Bonarda, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Tempranillo, and Merlot. Major white grapes include Pedro Giménez, Chardonnay, Torrontés Riojano, Chenin Blanc, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Some red wines from Mendoza to try are…
2011 Don Manuel Villafañe “Gran Malbec.” Intense violet color, complex nose with aromas of black fruit, raspberries, plums, and nuts. Medium-bodied and quite smooth with spices, licorice, and chocolate.
2018 Achával-Ferrer “Finca Altamira” Malbec. (The wine was aged 15 months in French oak barrels.) Inky in color; smells like raspberry jam, with dark fruit and spices. Full-bodied and tannin with flavors of espresso, blackberry, and bittersweet chocolate.
2016 Juan Gregorio Bazán Reserva “Blend Selection.” (Blend of Malbec 40%, Cabernet Sauvignon 40%, and Merlot 20%). Dark ruby color with a bouquet of raspberries and hickory smoke-flavored barbecue sauce. Medium-bodied with flavors of red plums and spices. Smooth finish and aftertaste of toasted oak.
2016 Cruz Alta “Grand Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep color, full bouquet of black tea, juicy raspberries, and figs. Complex flavors of cherries, plums, and blackberries. Hints of vanilla and cocoa appear in the aftertaste.
2018 Septima “Cabernet Sauvignon.” Ruby colored with a bouquet of blackberry jam, black olive, black pepper, and toasted oak. Medium-bodied with flavors of plums and roasted coffee, with subtle nuances of licorice and mint.
Other producers to look for are Catena Zapata, Doña Paula, Familia Zuccardi, Norton, Rutini Wines, Salentein, Trapiche, Trivento, Vistalba, and Bodegas Weinert.
Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need To Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He consults and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR [email protected].