Grape Expectations: Mendoza

Mendoza is truly the wine capital of Argentina, home to three quarters of the country’s vineyard area. It could also be called the Malbec capital of Argentina – and indeed the world – since there is more Malbec planted here than in any other wine region around the globe.

The Andes are key to successful viticulture here, with altitude slowing down ripening and creating incredibly flavoursome grapes, while snow melt provides free-of-charge irrigation.

While there are almost oceans of very serviceable Mendoza Malbecs available today, if you’re in the market for something a little more special you may wish to look for one of the region’s higher-quality subregions. Lujan de Cuyo and Valle de Uco are two such examples, and the wines from these regions tend to combine excellent intensity of flavour with a real elegance.

It’s not just about Malbec, either. Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon can all be found in reasonable quantities in Mendoza. For white grapes, you’ll find some rather good Chardonnay, particularly when planted at high elevations, as well as the love-it-or-hate-it Torrontes, which I always think of as a slightly lighter version of Gewurztraminer.

Recommendation: La Cayetana Malbec, Uco Valley 2020  – A real staff favourite at OWC, this Malbec is super concentrated while remaining pure and elegant with a delicate floral lift. Truly excellent.

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