A lot of people don’t really think of Argentina when they’re asked to name the best wine countries.
Of course, Italy tends to be the first country that people think of. Italian wines have a long lineage of quality that nobody can argue with. The same goes for France and Spain, which are two of the other countries that immediately come to mind. Even the United States, with its shorter history, is considered one of the top wine countries based on both volume and quantity.
Most people wouldn’t think of it, at least as an immediate choice.
That’s a true shame in our eyes because Argentina has a lot to offer to the wine industry. So, in this article, we want to shed some light on why you should appreciate the efforts of producers in the country a little more and what helps Argentinian wines stand out from their Italian counterparts.
You may just end up wanting to shop from our collection of Argentinian wines by the time you’re finished!
Fact #1 – Advanced Irrigation Systems Make the Wines Possible
If you do know a little bit about Argentinian wines, you probably know that Mendoza is the most important wine region in the country. It’s responsible for about two-thirds of the country’s production and its wines are phenomenal.
What you may not know is that it wasn’t that long ago when Mendoza was an inhospitable wasteland!
That may be a slight exaggeration, but it’s true that Mendoza used to be an extremely dry and arid area. This was the result of it being a mining region, where engineering took precedence over agriculture.
So, how did this arid landscape turn into stunning wine territory?
Through one of the most advanced irrigation systems ever concocted!
Where countries like Italy have plenty of terrain that is naturally favourable to wines, Argentinian producers had to make their terrain favourable through feats of engineering that many others couldn’t comprehend at the time. It’s thanks to this irrigation system that the country’s wine producers are able to make use of land that was once considered completely unsuitable for agriculture.
When we talk about passion for wine, this is that passion in action.
An entire region dedicated itself to transforming its terroir just so it could start making wine. While Mendoza may not have the rich wine history of Italy’s most famous regions, nobody can argue that it doesn’t deserve the reputation it has based on the hard work and ingenuity of its producers.
Fact #2 – La Zonda Helps (And Hinders)
La Zonda is the name of a warm wind that blows through Argentina’s main wine territories.
The interesting thing about this wind is that it can both create and solve problems.
When it’s blowing fairly mildly, La Zonda helps to create a perfect environment for many of Argentina’s favoured grapes to grow. Better yet, it also helps to eliminate common pests, which means producers don’t have to rely as heavily on chemical pesticides.
This can lead to Argentinian wines tasting a little more natural than their counterparts from other countries.
Unfortunately, La Zonda doesn’t always play nice.
When the wind really picks up, it can have a damaging effect on crops to the point where it destroys the grapes. Plus, it contributes to the arid nature of Argentina’s wine country that we spoke about earlier.
So, in La Zonda we have a wind that both gives and takes. This leads to more unique challenges for Argentinian producers to overcome that Italian producers don’t necessarily have to face.
Fact #3 – Malbec is the Most Popular Grape
If you know your French wines, you’ve certainly heard of Malbec. It’s one of the six grape varieties that producers are allowed to use when making Bordeaux. And it’s one of France’s most popular grapes as a result.
In Italy, Malbec is rarely used outside of some northern regions.
But in Argentina…
It’s the grape of choice for the vast majority of the country’s wines. Argentina just happens to provide the perfect climate for Malbec, which means the country’s version of the grape tends to be of exceptionally high quality.
This marks another difference between Argentinian and Italian wines.
Argentina’s wines rely on Malbec and a small collection of other grapes. Italy’s wines offer a lot more variety, though we can certainly argue that Argentina has Italy beat when it comes down to wines made using Malbec.
Whether Argentina can compete with France when it comes to Malbec is a much more interesting debate to have!
Fact #4 – Argentina Has a Longer Wine History Than You Might Expect
It’s easy to assume that Argentina is a fairly recent addition to the global wine industry.
After all, it wasn’t until the 1990s that the country’s wines started coming to prominence. And it was in the 2000s when people start paying attention to the high quality of the country’s best wines.
However, the reality is that Argentina has a deeper history with wine than you might think.
In fact, records show that early producers started cultivating the nation’s native grape, Torrontés, over 300 years ago.
Of course, the industry then was localised and not particularly widespread. Still, it goes to show that a lot more heritage goes into Argentina’s wines than one might suspect.
Still, there is a difference between Italy and Argentina here, as we know that Italy’s land has been used for wine for thousands of years by various ancient civilisations.
However, it’s important to note that Argentina’s relatively shorter history with wine is by no means a reason to discard the wines it produces today.
The Final Word
We’re delighted to see Argentinian wines gaining popularity in recent years, not least because we respect the amazing efforts made to transform Mendoza and its other regions into viable wine terroir.
Of course, there are differences between Argentinian and Italian wines, with climate, grape varieties, and experience all playing their parts. But there are plenty of amazing wines coming out of Argentina today, many of which are featured on the Xtrawine website.
If you’re in the mood for something a little different, why not try an Argentinian wine today?