Malbec. Malbec? Malbec! These three sentences sum up my trip to Mendoza, Argentina. The locals are crazy for it; the foreigners can’t get enough of the stuff, even the viticulturists and winemakers like the grape! I must admit that I was skeptical about the variety as a legitimate flagship for a wine industry, but you know what? It works. What I learnt on this trip was that no other red variety consistently produced the flavour, colour, typicity and complexity of Malbec in this region. I tried many Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots and Syrahs expecting great things, but the Malbecs consistently out performed these “go to” international varieties. This may in part be due to the higher average age of the Malbec vines (particularly in Luyan de Cuyo), or their ability to handle the heat and widespread furrow irrigation. I was even told by growers and winemakers that Malbec had been planted in Argentina for so long that it had evolved into it’s own new species specially adapted to this unique hot, high altitude region?! I’m not sure what the reason is, but I have to admit, I tasted some mighty fine bottles of wine with the words “Malbec” and “Mendoza” on the label.
In terms of white wines, the Chardonnay and Torrontes from the cooler areas in Argentina really stood out. I thoroughly enjoyed the Chardonnays from the Uco Valley as well as Agrelo. I also thought the Torrontes from Salta and La Rioja were truly excellent. It appears that Argentina has a solid base of styles and varietals from which to draw. I can’t wait to share them with you soon!