Wines of Argentina
Free tasting | Saturday, June 9, 2018 | 4-6PM
On Saturday, Bethann from Cafe Europa is visiting and pouring all Argentine wine (is it Argentinian, or Argentine? We say Argentine!).
When one hears ‘Argentina,’ the Tango, Che Guevara, and beef are probably what pops into your mind. This South American country also boosts a thriving wine industry: it currently ranks 5th in worldwide wine production! The Argentine wine industry started quite humbly back in the 1500’s when Franciscan monks traveled throughout Peru, Chile, and Argentina and planted grapes (like País and Criolla Grande) for religious purposes. These grapes didn’t exactly flourish in Argentina’s unique terroir – yields were quite low – it wasn’t until the late 1800’s when Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carménère ‘took root’ and Argentina really found its wine voice. Fast forward to the early 2000’s when Argentine wineries began investing in new winemaking technology with the goal of sitting atop the international wine market – and they have indeed propelled themselves to the top!
Argentina’s wine regions fall on the West side of the country (bordering Chile) for a simple reason: the vineyards rely on water that comes from the Andes Mountains. The wine regions range all the way from Northern Salta to Patagonia, land which is considered desert terrain because these regions only get between 7-8 inches of annual rainfall. Alternatively for irrigation, Argentine winemakers utilize snowmelt from the Andes Mountains that are funneled into a network of irrigation channels, a system which was designed hundreds of years ago by the Incas. The average altitude of vineyards across all of the wine regions is 900 meters (roughly 3000 feet) above sea-level, which is quite high for vineyards, and causing major temperature variance between night and day. Very few pests and insects can survive at that height and especially with the dramatic temperature variance.
Malbec is so intertwined with Argentina that it's sometimes hard to believe that Malbec actually originates from France! Malbec comes from the southwest of France in the appellation of Cahors, where it is called Côt, but it has definitely found its competitor in the region of Mendoza in Argentina. Mendoza is roughly the size of Illinois and 75% of the grapes grown are Malbec. For the other red grapes that are grown in Argentina, basically picture anything that pairs well with steak: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Bonarda. This country is famous for juicy, dry, and spicy reds! White grape wise, Torrontés is King. This grape originated in Spain but is now only being grown in Argentina. Some of the best producers of Torrontés are in the region Salta. It is unlike any other grape: floral with full-bodied honey notes and zippiness. Other white grape varieties are Viognier, Garnacha Blanca, and Semillon.
This Saturday, Bethann from Cafe Europa is showing a line-up from Argentina, including Malbec, Bonarda, Viognier, and more! Wineries we’re featuring are Familia Mayol and Pie de Palo. Owned and operated by Eduardo Lapania, Pie de Palo winery is situated 13 miles south of Mendoza City where the climate is moderate in the summer and winter months. With dry air year-round, and little rainfall, the vines maintain optimal health. We’ll open their Viognier, which a perfect go-to for that outdoor summer concert coming up!
Familia Mayol winery is located in Valle de Uco, in the southwest of Mendoza. Pedro and Liliana Mayol are both architects who designed their winery, and have three grown children who all work at the winery: Matas, Milagros, and Luca. The Mayol project started in 1990 when the family purchased their first vineyard in Tupungato. Today, they own 3 properties (Montuiri, Sebastian, and Pircas), and farm using all organics. On Saturday, we’re opening Familia Mayol Malbec and Bonarda, and their Garnacha Blanca. See you Saturday!