Argentinian Wines: Mendoza

Argentina’s most important wine region is Mendoza, due west of Buenos Aires, nestled in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, not far from Chile. Its high-elevation desert climate is planted to over 70 percent of the grapes in that country: 335,000 acres. The total acreage of Mendoza at the beginning of the 21st century was more than the combined acreage of New Zealand and Australia, and almost half the acreage in the United States. Most of the jug wine plantings have been changed over to the quality varietals now that quality over quantity is the focus. Indeed, much of Mendoza’s allure is that small changes in elevation and the subsequent changes in soils yield a wealth of terroirs. As each terroir expresses its character, one can expect to see these sub-regions to be more prominent on the labels. The major growing areas in Mendoza are Luján de Cuyo, Maipú, Uco Valley and Tupungato, all located below Mount Aconcagua, and range in altitude from about 2,000 to 3,600 feet above sea level. The soil is alluvial and sandy with clay subsoils, and has a continental climate of four distinct seasons that contribute to the vine’s affinity to the area.