As winter sets in across most of the United States, our Wine Pairing Weekend group is taking a virtual journey to the southern hemisphere for warmer weather as we explore the world of Argentinian wines.
Argentina is high on my list of wine regions to visit. Best known for Malbec, its flagship variety, it is home to a host of red and white grapes, plus bubbles! For this article, I chose to highlight three Argentinian wines beyond Malbec—a blend, a rosé, and a lesser-known variety.
Argentina Wine Regions:
- Argentina’s wine regions are defined by altitude, with many of the top vineyards over 3000 feet above sea level.
- Most of the vineyards lie close to the Andes Mountains, which create a rain shadow, resulting in the need for irrigation. The water is sourced from rivers flowing down the mountains or from underground aquifers.
- Summertime hail poses a regular hazard, particularly near Mendoza. Netting is used to protect the vines.
- Due to the dry conditions, mildew and rot risks are low—organic viticulture is common.
- Four provinces classify the wine regions: Salta Province, La Rioja Provence, San Juan Province, and Mendoza Province.
- Mendoza produces the vast majority of Argentinian wines. The vineyard are planted in desert conditions, with Andes Mountains to the west, and Argentine Pampas to the east. It is divided into five divisions:
- Northern and Eastern mainly produce high-volume wines
- Central region has the longest history of producing high quality wines. Many top producers are located in this region. Lujan de Cuyo is known for high quality Malbec, while Maipúis known for Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Uco Valley is home to an array of grapes, including: Chardonnay, Torrontés, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec.
- Patagonia Region in the far south lies at a much lower altitude, however the latitude provides ample cooling effects. Long hours of daylight sun, low rainfall, and cool nights result in high quality wines with concentrated fruit and high acidity.
In 1950, Engineer Albert Zuccardi began experimenting with new irrigation systems in Mendoza. In 1963, he planted a vineyard in Maipú to demonstrate the functionality of his new system to local farmers. Twenty years later, Zuccardi began focusing on cultivating high quality varieties—Julia was born. Today, the Santa Julia Winery is run by Julia Zuccardi.
Bodega Santa Julia is committed to being natural, environmentally friendly, and growing in harmony with the community. The long-term sustainability of harvest are extremely important, which is the reason Santa Julia fosters the natural richness of the soil through certified organic vineyard management. It works in care of the earth, the people, and the community.
2018 Bodegas Santa Julia Malbec Rosé Medonza Argentina ($11): crafted of 100% organic Malbec; crisp aromas of sweet red berries, citrus, crushed stone; fuller on the palate, crisp, refreshing, great with food.
2017 Bodegas Santa Julia Mountain Blend Reserva Uco Valley Argentina ($13): crafted of 70% Malbec and 30% Cabernet Franc; a powerful red wine with notes of dark fruit slightly jammed, crushed red flowers, dried herbs, baking spice, black pepper, dusty cocoa, dried espresso beans, trailing vanilla; layered on the palate, full-bodied, velvet tannins, medium acidity, balance of fruit and earth, long finish
The Zuccardi legacy continues with third-generation winemaker, Sebastián Zuccardi. He has lead the development of a new state of the winery expansion into Uco Valley. The winery has an area of research and development dedicated to the study of the terroir and different variables that affect wine production in the area. The winery opened in March 2016.
2016 Zuccardi Serie A Bonarda Mendoza Argentina ($15): Crafted of 100% Bonarda (the second most planted variety in Argentina), deep purple with rich notes of jammed black berries, baking spice, dusty earth, black pepper; full-bodied, vivacious, crushed velvet tannins, balanced, will cellar well, if opening now decant; a great food wine.
These wines will pair with a wide variety of foods, certainly beef—Argentina’s specialty. However, I had empanadas on the brain, and since they are a classic Argentinian food, I to marry the two. I paired all three wines with homemade beef empanadas. No recipe, just some ingenuity.
All three wines paired great. I particularly enjoyed the Malbec Rosé because of its refreshing acidity. The two reds were both great—bold, rich, round, and juicy. The Mountain Blend offered a more earthy palate, while the Serie A Bonarda was elegant and pleasing. It was a great dinner all around.
More Information on Argentinian Wines from My Fellow #WinePW friends:
- Deanna from Asian Test Kitchen presents”Spicy Thai Basil Chicken + Torrontes”
- Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “A Taste of Argentina”
- Jill from L’Occasion presents “All The Range: Not Just Malbec From Argentina“
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Carbonada Criolla + Zuccardi Q 2013 Tempranillo”
- David at Cooking Chat presents “Roasted Chimichurri Steak and Wines from Argentina”
- Cindy at Grape Experiences shares “Wine and Dine with Bodega Trivento Winemaker German di Cesare”
- Sarah at Curious Cuisiniere presents “Ñoqui con Tuco (Potato Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce) paired with Argentinian Wine”
- Jane at Always Ravenous presents “How to Pair Vegetarian Food with Argentine Wines”
- Jennifer at Vino Travels shares “Argentina Wines with Familia Zuccardi”
- Kat at Bacchus Travel and Tours presents “Exploring Argentina: Warm Wines for Cold Nights”
- Nicole at Somms Table shares “Catena Lunlunta Malbec and Steak with Chimichurri for Two“
- Nancy at Pull That Cork presents “Domaine Bousquet Reserve Wines & Savory Tray Bake“
- Martin at Enofylz Wine Blog shares “A Cross Cultural Food And Wine Pairing with Amado Sur”
- Rupal at Syrah Queen presents “Wines of Zuccardi – Malbec and Beyond”
- Steve at Steven’s Wine and Food Blog shares “Argentine Torrontes and Romesco Sauce”
- Liz at What’s in That Bottle presents “Argentina’s Upping Its Wine Game“
- Gwen at Wine Predator shares “Go Organic in 2019 With Argentina’s Domaine Bousquet and Santa Julia“
- Jeff at Food Wine Click! presents “Party Guaranteed: Pulled Pork and Argentine Wine”
Please join us tomorrow morning at 10 CST on Twitter to share your thoughts on Argentinian wines.