Tango & Wine

This month we’re heading to South America to one of the New World’s fastest growing exporter of wines

Argentina is one of those few countries that can produce amazing wines at fantastic prices but, because of poor export policies and lack of knowledge from the public, its wines are not as widely available or known as they should be. Although it is the eighth largest producer of wine in the world, most of the country’s wine production is destined for local consumption.

Separated from Chile by the Andes Mountains, the combination of unlimited sun, lots of water for irrigation from the melted snow and high elevations gives Argentina exceptional conditions for wine growing.

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Although Argentina historically focused on growing Criollla and Cereza grapes, mostly used for cheap table wines, it has gained a reputation for its Malbec-based wines and fresh Torrontes. Argentinian Malbec is characterized by its deep color and blackberry and dark plum flavors. Produced in different styles, the full-body high alcohol ones have gained international reputation, especially when paired with a good Argentinian steak.

Nevertheless an array of traditional grapes are planted in Argentina and, more often than not, you can find great Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon based wines, which also deliver the particular aromas and flavors of the Argentinian terroir.

Of the wine producing areas in Argentina, Mendoza definitely wins for reputation for producing high quality wines. In fact Mendoza produces around 70 percent of all Argentinian wine with most of its vines planted between 700 and 1300 meters of altitude.

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Although Argentina produces some easy drinking red wines, most are crafted to be drunk with food; a good balance of acidity, fruit and tannin make them ideal for roasts and beef, and can also be enjoyed on their own by brave drinkers who love full-body wines.

One of the mostly unknown jewels of Argentina is the Torrontes grape, which is used to make fantastic fresh, aromatic, full of fruit white wines. It’s a very particular grape that delivers very particular wines. They are likely to become very popular as soon as people risk trying something new.

There are not many Argentinian wines available in Vietnam, however there are three worth trying: Alta Vista (available at the Warehouse), Diamandes (available at Finewines) and Kaiken, produced by iconic Montes (available at Bluebird).

BIO: Alfredo de la Casa has been organizing wine tastings for over 20 years and has published three wine books, including the Gourmand award winner for best wine education book. You can reach him at www.wineinvietnam.com.

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