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Alastair explores the wine regions of Argentina

By Alastair Marshall, also posted in News on

Wine Buyer Alastair MarshallOn a recent visit to the wine growing areas of Argentina, I was fortunate to take a trip south and head for Patagonia where wine production, with a little help from the Argentinian government, is taking off. This is a cool climate area, and so I hoped for interesting examples of Pinot Noir and perhaps some perky fizz. My preconceptions were of glaciers, mountains and valleys, and I am sure that they are there somewhere - but where the vineyards are is flat; very, very flat. As far as the eye can see it is flat and generally featureless. Desert scrublandIt is all naturally a desert, and if it was not constantly irrigated by the generous, snow-melt rivers that flow down from the Andes, it would revert to type quickly. Vineyards are a relatively new addition to the agricultural scene down here, the production of apples, pears, olives and garlic is already established on an impressively large scale and I recall driving past one field of espaliered apples for more than twenty minutes. [caption id="attachment_9522" align="alignleft" width="170"]Irrigation water brings agriculture to the desert Irrigation water brings agriculture to the desert[/caption] There are a few main roads that are metaled, but mostly it is sandy tracks on which the locals delight in passing one’s cautious progress, to leave you in a dust cloud that only blows clear when they are miles ahead. The wines vary from mediocre to sensational, but this is a new venture and from just my first foray into this developing region, I can see the exciting potential. Try the Pinot Noir from the delightfully named Bodegas Fin del Mundo (coming soon!)- it is full of the possibilities of the region. Familiar to all who have sampled the delights of Argentinian wines is the name Mendoza. My recent visit has given me a much better understanding of the shape and feel of the land and saying Mendoza, as it turns out, is the equivalent of saying Acquitaine in France. [caption id="attachment_9521" align="alignright" width="144"]Patricio Gouguenheim Patricio Gouguenheim[/caption] Think of a region that encompasses all of Bordeaux, Bergerac, Duras, Buzet, Cahors etc, under one general catch-all name and you have it. Mendoza, similarly, incorporates several distinct areas and my eyes are firmly turned towards the Tupungato region of the Uco valley, which is not only the source of the excellent Adnams Malbec from Susana Balbo, but also the home of Bodegas Gouguenheim. Gouguenheim is a bit of an oddity in the region, as the winery shows complete lack of attention of an internationally-awarded architect, and its futuristic visitor centre is nowhere to be seen. All Patricio Gouguenheim’s investment has been in his vineyards, leaving his functional, box-like winery to be just that - functional. We have expanded our range from this excellent source because they represent some of the best value-for-money wines that we know. Try the Torrontés for a great example of this spicy dry white or the Reserva Malbec, which shows perfect varietal flavours wrapped up in a substantial mouthful. You can watch a video of Patricio Gouguenheim chatting to Alastair during his visit to Southwold last week here. You can also listen to a podcast of Alastair's interview with Patricio.


Alastair Marshall