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Over the past decade Argentina has evolved from a country not well known on the global wine scene to the New World’s fastest growing exporter of wine and fifth largest producer in the world. The leading grape in Argentina in terms of reputation and quantity is Malbec, a Bordeaux variety imported to Argentina from France in the mid of 19th century. Other red varieties produced in Argentina include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Bonarda, Syrah, Tempranillo and Pinot Noir. Among white wines, the Argentinian wine region’s signature grape is Torrontés, which yields a floral, tropical tasting wine. Argentina also produces Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio.
Argentinian wine, just as its cuisine, has roots in Spain, with cultivation of grapes and wine producing starting in 1557 from vine cuttings brought by the Spanish during America’s colonization. Until the early 1990s, Argentina was already the biggest wine producer outside of Europe, but their focus was on the internal market and the wines were not considered quality-worth exporting. It was only during the 1990s that Argentinian winemakers started focusing on quality, boosting the exports to a world-renowned level.
The biggest wine-producing regions are the provinces of La Rioja, San Juan and Mendoza, with the latter being responsible for 60% of the country’s production and even a higher percentage of the total exports.
Mendoza – Situated in the shadow of Mount Aconcagua, the vineyards in Mendoza are planted at altitudes of 600 to 1,100 meters (1,970 to 3,610 feet). The soil is sandy and alluvial on top of clay, with a continental climate that presents four distinct seasons. Historically dominated by the pink-skinned varieties of Criolla Grande and Cereza, Malbec is now the most popular grape in the region.
San Juan – The second largest producer of Argentina, with a climate drier and hotter than Mendoza, stands out with the Syrah and Douce Noir (Bonarda) varietals. One of its sub-regions, Pedernal Valley, is grabbing recent attention for its production of high-altitude quality wines, both white and red.
La Rioja – Know as the longest continued history wine production in Argentina, La Rioja is a small region famous for aromatics Moscatel and Torrontés.
Since November 2010, wine is government declared the country’s national liquor!
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