Argentines are passionate about wine, this romance dates back to the year 1551 when the first vine brought from Spain was planted in the province of Santiago del Estero. These first vines were introduced mainly by clergymen of the Catholic Church in order to use wine in the ritual of mass, remember that Argentina was a Spanish colony. In this way the vine spread from the hand of the Jesuits and Franciscans throughout the colonial territory. The Argentine Independence stopped trade with Spain, and this caused a great boost in national wine production. In 1853 the first French vines brought from Chile were introduced. At that time Chile already had an important local production, and due to its proximity to this country, the provinces of San Juan and Mendoza became the epicenter of Argentine production.
Today Argentina, thanks to its 17,600 producers, has become the fifth largest wine producer in the world, behind Italy, France, Spain and the United States; and the eleventh exporter in the world. Among the 127 countries where wine is exported, the markets of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil and the Netherlands stand out. Our country has 948 wineries and 23,931 vineyards distributed in 15 of the 23 Argentine provinces, highlighting the great production of the province of Mendoza that makes 85% of the local wine. Mendoza, in order of importance according to its production, is followed by the provinces of: San Juan, Salta, La Rioja, Catamarca, Neuquén, Río Negro, Córdoba, La Pampa, Tucumán, Buenos Aires, San Luis, Chubut, Jujuy and Entre Ríos.
Wine consumption in Argentina averages 29 liters per person annually. And in order to promote Argentine wine throughout the world, in 2013 Law No. 26,870 was enacted, declaring Argentine wine a “national drink”. Wine has been consolidated based on social habits typical of Argentine culture and identity, rooted in the family and friendship environment. In addition, it contributes to the socioeconomic sustenance of the producing provinces. These Argentine provinces have a wide diversity of climates and soils that make each region a unique terroir. From the highest vineyards in the world in the province of Salta, located in northern Argentina (such is the case of the Colomé Winery, which since 1831 has made its famous high altitude wines at 2300 meters or 7546 feet above sea level), to the southernmost vineyards in the world (this is the case of the Otronia Winery located in the province of Chubut, Argentine Patagonia). Although the region of the center – west and northwest of Argentina are the historical areas with the highest production and superlative quality of the different vines, today the wines of the Patagonian region (south) are gaining ground.
Among all the vines grown in Argentina, the undisputed queen is Malbec. Originally from the Bordeaux region, it is the emblematic variety of Argentine wine production. Grown in most of the Argentine producing provinces, it represents 21% of the country’s total vine. The province of Mendoza concentrates 85% of Malbec in the country, followed by San Juan with 6%. According to the ranking prepared by the prestigious publication Wine Spectator, the award for the best Malbec in the world in 2020 has been awarded to Chacayes 2015 from the Piedra Negra Winery located in the Uco Valley, Mendoza province.
In case you are vacationing in Argentina and want to buy a bottle of wine, here are some expert tips…
According to the international critic and British “Master of Wine” Tim Atkins, among the best wines in the world in 2020, the Argentines stood out:
In the opinion of the international American critic and editor of the prestigious Wine Spectator magazine, James Suckling, among the best wines in the world in 2020, the Argentines stood out:
For the publication The Wine Advocate of the American critic Robert Parker, the Argentine wines deserving of the perfect rating of 100 points in recent years are:
These are just a few examples of the thousands of top-class Argentine wines that you can taste while touring our country. In Argentina there are different “wine routes” that you can enjoy if you are a wine lover. You will be able to enjoy the exquisite wines, the wonderful Argentine landscapes and some of the most beautiful wineries and vineyards in the world (this is the case of “Zuccardi Valle de Uco” winner of the title of best vineyard in the world for the second year in a row, distinction awarded in the World´s Best Vineyards competition, ranking made by the company William Reed).
In case you only have time to visit Buenos Aires you will not find vineyards, but you can experience an exquisite wine tasting by excellent local sommeliers in different neighborhoods such as Palermo, Monserrat and San Telmo.
To toast and cheers!