Mendoza Malbec is synonymous with easygoing reliability. The enormous constituency of US consumers, which ranges from New Haven to Houston, Phoenix to Milwaukee, drank 82 million bottles of Argentine wine in 2019 and sees Malbec as something you can slip into like a comfortable pair of old slippers. For these fans, I have both good and bad news.
Argentina, Chile, featured
By the end of March 2020, almost every winery in Chile and Argentina had finished picking. Apart from a few small pockets, on both sides of the Andes the harvest was completed in record time. With ripening accelerated by a combination of climatic factors, and the looming threat of COVID-19 exerting pressure on work teams, we were presented with the unprecedented sight of bare vineyards at the end of March – generally not something you’d see until late April or early May.
In the spiritual homeland of Malbec, many of the most innovative new wines being produced today are white. One might be forgiven for thinking that winemakers are being deliberately contrary; however, over the past decade and a half, underneath wave after wave of reds, a revolution has been simmering away quietly. Chardonnays and Sémillons are now being produced that are every bit as good as some of the best Malbecs in the country.
United States: California, France, General Interest, New Zealand, United States: Oregon, Argentina, Australia, featured, Italy
In just the past couple of months, the novel coronavirus has profoundly changed the production and sale of wine around the globe. In this roundtable interview, 35 producers get specific about the challenges they are facing.
Until quite recently, one might have been forgiven for describing Argentina’s wine industry as a vast enterprise that made little distinction between different styles and terroirs. That is no longer the case. Producers in Argentina are going through their terroirs with a fine-tooth comb, hoping to discover outstanding sites that are capable of world-class wines.
Despite economic tumult, Argentina is making better wines today than ever before, thanks to a recent string of very good to outstanding vintages, increasing vineyard plantings in cooler, higher-altitude sites, and winemaking techniques designed to produce fresher, better-balanced wines with clear site character.
Against a backdrop of some recent tricky growing seasons and the constant economic challenge of doing business in Argentina, the country’s best producers are making more refined, aromatically complex and vibrant wines than ever before – bottles that should satisfy even hard-core fans of classic European wines.
Within just the last six weeks I’ve experienced global warming up close and personal: 92-degree late-May weather in Burgundy, 102 degrees in Walla Walla before the end of June, and the steam heat of a New York City summer. But somehow Mendoza, Argentina’s engine of wine production, a semi-arid desert region that could not produce wine without irrigation from melting Andes snow, has not had a classically warm, dry growing season since 2012 – until this year, that is.
Verticals & Retrospectives, Argentina, featured
Trailblazer Nicolás Catena launched his Nicolás Catena Zapata blend in 1997 to prove that Argentina could make a world-class Bordeaux-style wine with a long and graceful aging curve. My vertical tasting in September made it clear that he was successful from the outset.
Current releases from Argentina are strikingly different from the wines of just a decade ago. In recent years, Argentina’s top grape-growers and winemakers have sought out cooler, mostly higher-altitude sites and soils more conducive to making fresher, more complex, better-balanced wines. Moreover, since 2013 Argentina has experienced a succession of cool vintages, and this weather trend has further intensified the shift away from porty, high-octane reds with dried-fruit character. The result has been a greater number of outstanding bottlings than ever before.