An Argentine Tidal Wave

‘E’wine of the week

By Bruce Cochran

Quality wines at good prices

Hello Everyone,

It’s time for another bargain this week, with some red wine from one of the most exciting and fastest growing wine regions in the world today.

Try a new wine this week! 



Belasco de Baquedano’s Llama

Argentine wines, especially reds from the malbec grape, are becoming some of the hottest wines in the U.S. market, mainly due to ever-increasing quality and good prices. Only a few years ago there wasn’t a very big selection beyond a few large, corporate-owned wineries, but today we’re seeing the front end of what could be a tidal wave of good wines. New wineries are being established at a rapid rate, so supplies, and hopefully prices, should remain favorable for some time to come.

Like any other wine producing country, styles can vary from one region to the next, and as Argentine wines become more numerous here, you may begin to notice more emphasis on location.  Here’s a quick reference list of the country’s main wine regions, or at least the ones whose wines we see most today in our country:

Mendoza-Argentina’s first capital, this lovely, 500-year-old city and the area around it is the first wine name to learn, along with its most important grape variety, malbec. In fact, Mendoza and malbec have almost come to define each other. Most of the best quality wines come from the Andean foothills west of the city, an area known as Mendoza River and its two best districts, Lujan de Cuyo and Maipu.  

Farther south, the high altitude vineyards of Uco Valley, near Mount Tupungato, is the new hot place, especially with such star-quality wineries like Salentein and Andeluna. Malbecs from Uco Valley can show more refined fruit, more tannins and acidity, and are often more floral than their somewhat more California like cousins in Lujan de Cuyo. Much of the recent international investment is happening in Uco Valley.

Salta: This region is north of Mendoza, and not within easy driving distance. It’s best know for outstanding torrontes from Cafayette Valley (torrontes is a spicy white grape, originally from Spain, and makes some of Argentina’s best and certainly most interesting white wines). Etchart makes my favorite torrontes.

Patagonia: Farther south, in Neuquen and along the upper stretches of Rio Negro, this cool climate region is becoming known for excellent pinot noirs. This is a place to watch, especially wineries like Saurus.

I tasted a great Mendoza malbec bargain several days ago, the “Llama” from Belasco de Baquedano. With a century old vineyard and consulting winemaker, Bertrand Bourdil-formerly of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild. Is one of only two people to make 100-point Rober Parker-scored wines. It’s incredible to think of getting it for about $15. Their more ambitious, lower-yield bottling cost more but are also bargains.

Categories: Legacy Archive