No need to cry over Argentinian wines

Tapiz Viognier and Bonarda

Tapiz Viognier and Bonarda - Credit: Archant

What to drink with steak? Argentina has the answer – Malbec of course! However, that’s not the only wine grown in this major wine producing country that is great with steak as recent tastings have shown.

The geographical diversity of Argentina provides a myriad of terroirs from deserts in Patagonia to high altitudes in the Andes which suit different grape varieties ensuring a rich range of wine styles are produced.

South America’s wine reputation used to be dominated by Chilean wines but now Argentina makes five times as much wine and is catching up on the export markets thus carving a strong reputation of its own.

It still exports huge volumes in bulk to Russia et al with exports of superb quality wines bottles at source are rapidly increasing.

In the 1990s and early 2000s Argentinian wine available in the UK was mostly made from the Malbec grape that had originated in France and produced high volumes of simple juicy fruit wines.

Since then the vines are planted in cooler areas to limit production and to restrain the huge heady flavours.

The fruit grown now is of good quality, with great oak aging potential creating excellent wines with more subtle delicious lingering aromas and flavours.

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Try the wines of Tapiz from Mendoza and Fournier in the Uco Valley, part of Mendoza who produce fabulously complex wines of great quality.

Companies like Nieto Senetiner also produce Malbec wines in this region starting at £10 and onwards. The Bonarda grape is now well established and going through the same period of adolescence or growing up period.

The once-simple, heady richly fruity wines now are gaining some sophistication as regions in Mendoza are singled out as great for Bonarda grapes with careful aging in oak.

Tapiz, once again, are producers of good examples of this wine.

Cabernet Sauvignon is developing a niche for itself in the same way as seen in the Vina Cobos wines made by Paul Hobbs, wine consultant from California.

Torrontes, like Malbec, has become synonymous with Argentinian white wines and especially with more plantings on the plateau in Cafayate high in the Andes above Salta then the wines it makes are gaining in reputation.

Torrontes makes wines that are very aromatic with full tropical fruit notes that are grapy and distinctive with a rounded, peachy notes that linger. Nieto Senetiner, Tapiz and Trapiche all make a range of great white wines.

Torrontes isn’t the only white grape variety producing wines of note in Argentina as vineyards at high altitude in Cafayate, or in the Uco Valley and other parts of the Andean foothills around the wine producing hub of Mendoza successfully grow other varieties. Viognier, and to a limited extent Riesling are now being planted along with the more ubiquitous Chardonnay.

As steak is to Malbec in Argentinian restaurants then emapandas especially vegetable or cheesy ones are to Torrontes, Viognier et al. Some great wine and food pairing combinations are evolving at the same rate as the diversity of wines produced.