Currently sat in Montevideo airport (although for transparency that was when I started this piece!) reflecting on two years living in Argentina and Uruguay and thinking about my travels around the wine regions.
Argentina is a huge country with regions as diverse as the flat Pampa close to the Atlantic to the high, hot parts of Jujuy now producing wine in addition to the better known regions such as Mendoza (including the Uco Valley), Salta and San Juan. There are experiments with grapes, soils, fermentation container types and barrels taking place all over the country.
The wines themselves are now as varied as the landscape in which they are produced. To the south, cool climate Pinot Noir and light Chardonnays are now being produced. In Mendoza they are developing individual wines based on terroir and beginning the process of naming local zones
In Salta, blends of red grapes grown at height but with exposure to pure sunlight are producing some fine wines. Salta also continues to produce the best Torrontes in my view
For those that do not know, there are also ancient ruins in Salta just 30 mins or so from Cafayate dating back to the days of the Inca
Today, the Argentine producers (particularly small and medium sized) are struggling with the twin impact of high local inflation and a youth that has taken to Artisan beer. However, some excellent wine is being produced by some very creative wine makers and I rarely come across a poor bottle.
Uruguay was a real revelation to me when I arrived. I had always thought of Tannat as that grape making pretty tough wines in SW France. My view has completely changed now having tasted everything from roses and fine specimens fully of fruit. As for Argentina, lots of experimentation is going on although most of it being driven by the ‘very deep’ pockets of a few individuals - think Garzon whose bodega and fine restaurant are inland from Jose Ignacio
I have also been particularly impressed by the pure Cabernet Francs and Petit Verdots (which compliment the local lamb dishes) being developed along with the white Albariño and Pinot Noir rose wines that go perfectly with the Atlantic caught seafood
As you can see from the photos I have uploaded, this is a stunning part of the World and I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to live here at the moment. Unfortunately, I suspect that you see very few of the superb wines produced here in the UK because of the high cost of logistics (that is one element where Argentina is still stuck in the 1970s) and cost of production