Argentina: Much More than Malbec

By on November 9th, 2022 in Blog
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Many assume Argentinian wine is all about Malbec, but what about other varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay? Well, we’re pleased to confirm that in Argentina, wine comes in many forms. Unlike many countries with no indigenous vines, wine was consumed by normal working people. During the 1970s when the UK’s average wine consumption was only 3 litres per head per year, Argentinian annual wine consumption was a full 90 litres per capita. Malbec was first introduced in the late 1800s but took over a century to become what it is today. After much political upheaval, quality became the main focus with Malbec leading the charge. It is now Argentina’s most planted variety with over 76,500 acres growing. But other varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay play an important role too, though there’s no denying Malbec’s importance. Here we present four standard bearers for Argentina wine.

Tapiz Chardonnay

Our first Argentina wine comes from the country’s most famous wine region, Mendoza. Nestled in the foothills of the Andes, vineyard characteristics here are heavily influenced by altitude. As we’ve regularly discussed on these pages, altitude does wonderful things for grapes in warmer climates. With warm days and lots of sunshine, vines can produce grapes that ripen too fast. This gives simple somewhat 1-dimensional flavour characteristics. The cooling breezes and cold nights that higher altitudes offer, however, ensure a slower ripening period allowing more flavours and greater flavour concentration to develop. Mendoza may be famed for its Malbec, but Chardonnay also thrives here. Tapiz Chardonnay has excellent flavours of red apple, white peach, lemon curd, grapefruit, apricot and a little honeysuckle. There’s a tiny bit of oak influence, but it balances so well you’d hardly notice. It’s got great acidity and a lovely citric dry finish. De-lish.

argentina chardonnay wine

Manos Negras Chardonnay, Los Arboles

Another white now, also from Mendoza, but this time from the fabled Uco Valley. This area is effectively Mendoza turned up to 11. It’s cooler than much of the rest of the region, enjoys a fairly constant breeze off the mountains to which it is adjacent and has low-nutrient, well-drained soils. This combination of factors along with low rainfall and lots of sunshine means vines are very healthy, yields are low and grapes have serious flavour intensity. Manos Negras Chardonnay Los Arboles is a really clear expression of everything great about Uco Valley Chardonnay. Lots of ripe peach and apricot flavours, along with lovely ripe lemon, green apple and a little melon. It’s got just enough acidity to keep it fresh and has a pleasingly dry, citrussy finish. A textbook crowd pleaser with unimpeachable pedigree. If you think Argentina wine starts and ends with Malbec, think again!

argentina wine manos negras chardonnay

Domingo Hermanos Cabernet Sauvignon

Now we venture north, to one of Argentina’s most remote vine-growing and winemaking regions. Salta is several hundred miles north of Mendoza and is distinguished by some of Argentina’s highest vineyards. Domingo Hermanos Cabernet Sauvignon is made by brothers Osvaldo and Rafael with an emphasis on fruit purity. Unusually for a ‘Cab’, no oak has been used, but just because it hasn’t been left in fancy wooden barrels for a while, doesn’t mean it isn’t awesome. The unmistakable bramble and green pepper Cab notes are present and correct, along with dark plums, cassis and black cherry. There are also subtle dried herb and country pub fireplace elements that frame the fruit deliciously. Good acidity and super-fine tannins complete the picture. A really clear expression of a fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon. It does the Argentina wine trade proud and offers a brilliant alternative to Malbec. Stonking stuff.

argentina wine hermanos cabernet sauvignon

Malma Chacra La Papay Malbec

Finally, we come to the Malbec of our Argentina wine group. This, however, isn’t your normal fayre. Malma Chacra La Papay Malbec is from beautiful Patagonia, which is about as far south as you can grow grapes. This, along with a climate that offers plenty of sunshine, cool nights and minimal rain, means serious flavour and freshness. Don’t be mistaken, however, this wine still harnesses very clever use of oak, unlike some of the lighter styles now available. Spice is a big factor, with clove, black pepper, liquorice and some vanilla. And then the fruit. All the lovely dark berry flavours you could want along with some welcome red cherry and a very pleasing floral note to finish. Its balance is ideal with refreshing acidity and super fine tannins that enhance the finish and allow the flavours to really connect. We’d be amazed if there’s anything better for the price.

malma chacra malbec