Mendoza

Mendoza is by far the largest wine region in Argentina. Located on a high-altitude plateau at the edge of the Andes Mountains, the province is responsible for roughly 70 percent of the country's annual wine production. The French grape variety Malbec has its New World home in the vineyards of Mendoza, producing red wines of great concentration and intensity.

The province lies on the western edge of Argentina, across the Andes Mountains from Chile. While the province is large (it covers a similar area to the state of New York), its viticultural land is clustered mainly in the northern part, just south of Mendoza City. Here, the regions of Lujan de Cuyo, Maipu and the Uco Valley are home to some of the biggest names in Argentinian wine.

Mendoza's winemaking history is nearly as old as the colonial history of Argentina itself. The first vines were planted by priests of the Catholic Church's Jesuit order in the mid-16th Century, borrowing agricultural techniques from the Incas and Huarpes, who had occupied the land before them. Malbec was introduced around this time by a French agronomist, Miguel Aimé Pouget. In the 1800s, Spanish and Italian immigrants flooded into Mendoza to escape the ravages of the phylloxera louse that was devastating vineyards in Europe at the time. A boom in wine production came in 1885, when a railway line was completed between Mendoza and the country's capital city, Buenos Aires, providing a cheaper, easier way of sending wines out of the region

Altitude is one of the most important characteristics of the Mendoza terroir. The strip of vineyard land that runs along the base of the Andes lies between 800 and 1200 meters (2600 and 3900ft) above sea level, and it is this altitude that moderates the hot, dry climate of the region. Warm, sunny days are followed by nights made much colder by westerly winds from the Andes. This cooling-off period slows ripening, extending the growing season and contributing rich, ripe flavors to the grapes that do not come at the expense of acidity.

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