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Friday, March 22, 2013

Wine News : Chile vs Argentina Wines

I personally have not had good impressions of Argentina wines compared to Chilean ones. I find them more rough and unrefined in comparison.

Why are Cabernets in Argentina consistently bad when compared to the Cabernets made just across the Andes in Chile?

I just don't think you're going to impress many by pouring an Argentine Cabernet. Why is that when they Cabernets from Chile come from the same mountain range and the Malbecs from here are so good?

Generally The pacific side of the Andes provides more rain and humidity allowing the Chilean Cabernets to flourish. The Argentine side is much drier and favors the Malbec.

Here is the write-up in Bloomberg trying to promote them.

Argentine Wines Have Mile-High Taste, Rock Bottom Prices

After nine years of economic boom, Argentina again teeters on its own fiscal cliff. Yet the one continuing bright spot in the country's economy is its wine industry, which has record sales abroad based on high quality wine at remarkably modest prices.

According to the Wines of Argentina, sales of the country’s malbec, the dominant varietal here, grew by double digits worldwide from 2004 through 2011, while the number of cases exported to the U.S. more than doubled from 2007 through 2012. At a time when the global market is glutted, Argentina is the world’s fifth largest wine producer.

The country’s last financial crash in 2002 gave the wine industry a boost when exports benefited from a weaker peso and falling land prices made it cheaper to plant vines.

Seventy percent of Argentina’s wines come from the Mendoza region, whose 900 vineyards occupy 370,500 acres spread across desert-like terrain as high as 5,800 feet. The altitude, dry soil and low humidity help protect against the effects of global warming. The influence of warm and cold ocean currents el nino and la nina are mitigated, and phylloxera blight is kept at bay.

Wine Pioneer

A number of highly-praised labels are now coming out of Argentina, including Bodegas Salentein and BenMarco. But none has the pedigree or clout of Nicolas Catena Family Estates, founded in 1902, with vineyards throughout Mendoza.

His great granddaughter, Laura Catena, is both managing director of the company and a physician. She graduated magna cum laude in biology from Harvard and earned a medical degree in emergency care from Stanford. The mother of three (her husband is also a doctor), Catena splits her time between her San Francisco medical practice and her family’s winery in Mendoza.

“My personal motto is ‘Hard on issues, soft on people,’” she told me during a visit to the Catena Zapata winery. “We constantly work on quality through rigorous blending. A bottle of wine is like an orchestra: the instruments are all wonderful on their own, but together they create a truly beautiful sound.”

The family was also a pioneer, starting in 1994, in growing malbec, a grape used for softening cabernet blends in Bordeaux, which is now Argentina’s most admired varietal.

Beginning in 2001, Catena brought her scientific knowledge to bear on improving malbec to the point where it replaced cabernet sauvignon as their principal varietal.

Catena Zapata’s high altitude vineyards now produce some of the most prestigious wines in Argentina, none exceeding 14.5 percent alcohol levels. “We hate high alcohol,” Catena insists, as we sample some of her wines.