Mendoza is arguably one of the most exciting wine regions in the world right now; Argentina and its pinup grape, malbec, are both a hot property. The tl;dr of this is - jump in and ride the wave before it comes to shore.
Not just a one-trick pony
The country’s reds are most of what you’ll see in Australia, and of that, mostly malbec. You can expect Mendoza reds to have lots of ripe fruit (thanks to long ripening and lots of sunshine) plus high natural acidity and tannin thanks to cool nights. This means intensely fruity reds with bright acidity - super-punchy, and super-smooth. Big red wine fans rejoice! If you’re used to a Barossa shiraz, you may find the acidity higher than you’re used to initially, but you know the best foil for acid? Fat. Argentines are known for their love of steak, and it would seem rude not to celebrate that natural pairing.
Argentina as a wine-producing country has built its exciting reputation on Mendoza malbec as its centrepiece, but keep probing and it’s just the beginning. But malbec’s Bordeaux brethren cabernet sauvignon and co perform well Mendoza too - plus tempranillo and chardonnay are hot on their heels too.
Mendoza has distinct winegrowing areas, essentially delineated by valleys, or oases, within the mountainous terrain - spectacular scenery that sets deserts against snow-capped peaks.
The region has some of the world’s highest vineyards, at an average of 600-1,100 metres above sea level. This altitude takes the edge off the hot climate, allowing sunny days for ripening but cool nights to maintain grape acidity, which means good things for wine flavour intensity and structure.
Plus, there’s very low rainfall (about 200mm average, less than half that of Adelaide, our driest city), which means necessitated irrigation (with pristine meltwater from the Andes, no less) but naturally very low disease pressure. Soils have very low nitrogen availability too, so vines don’t tend to go too nuts. All this means that the region is perfect, incidentally, for organic viticulture. Hand-picking is still prevalent, which means an inherent uplift in quality versus most machine picking practices. It’s also true that the higher you go, the better the result, so you’ll often see a vineyard’s altitude promoted on the label.
Now’s the time
Whilst the country’s been making wine for a long time, their wine exports only started building up steam in the early noughties, while the popularity spike really happened around 2008-2010, when the GFC hit and people still wanted scrumptious wine without a First Growth price tag. Production increased exponentially to deal with unprecedented demand, but since then international demand has slowed off - and so the price of a great drop hasn’t climbed as meteorically as it could have. So there’s excellent value still, and that’s why we’re here.
We’ve all heard stories from friends who knew-a-friend who was buying Penfold’s Grange (and other great wines) when they were 12 or 13 bucks a bottle, or a lucky long-lost-aunt who bought a case on speculation. Now’s the time to do that with Argentine wine and be that person. Speculate, live a little, love their wine a lot.
Click here to discover the collection of the latest and greatest wines we found from Argentina. Yours to read about, buy, eat steak with, and tell us your favourites.