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Beyond Torrontes: Discover Argentinean white wines

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Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon have both found a unique place in Argentina and its wine history from their vineyards high up in the Andes...

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Beyond Torrontes: Discover Argentinean white wines

The rise of Sauvignon Blanc

The case of Sauvignon Blanc, in particular, has become a special phenomenon in Argentina. After having had a low profile for decades, it is now on the rise. The most curious thing is that its area of cultivation has not varied much, and it is grown from the north to the south of the country with very good results.

For example, and as might be expected, the highest concentration is found in Mendoza, especially in Valle de Uco. In this region, the vineyards of Sauvignon Blanc climb up to 1,400m in search of the climate that ensures correct ripening without sacrificing freshness.

The profile of these wines resembles those of New Zealand and the Casablanca Valley, but with a moderate and balanced expression, with crisp acidity and a fruity profile. Just look out for Zorzal Eggo Blanc de Cal 2016, Sophenia Synthesis 2016 and Salentein Single Vineyard San Pablo 2016 to check its potential in Mendoza.

Argentinian white wines

Sauvignon Blanc grown in the north. Credit: Wines of Argentina

Meanwhile, in the Calchaquí Valleys, in vineyards located above 2,000m, the results are more than surprising, since the wines develop a vegetal, spicy profile of good strength and amplitude on the palate, as with Colomé Lote Especial 2016, RD 2016 and Altupalka 2016.

In the province of Jujuy, to the north and at an altitude of 2,600m, Tukma Altura 2670 Sauvignon Blanc 2015 is produced, another reason that the most curious should not stop looking.

In Río Negro, Patagonia and Chapadmalal (Buenos Aires) near the sea, one can also find good examples. In the first, the inaugural commercial crop of 2017, has just been presented with the label Wapisa, which is a spin-off from Tapiz in Mendoza. The profile is moderate, closer to a Bordeaux white. Meanwhile, in Chapadmalal the winery Costa & Pampa is already going for its third harvest with an elegant Sauvignon Blanc, with fruity aromas and an electric palate, which seduces with ease.

The comeback of Semillon

About thirty years ago, this variety was at the heart of the most consumed whites in Argentina. Then came the rise of Chardonnay and, later, Torrontés, and this caused many producers to discard Semillon.

But today it is on the rebound.

The most outstanding case is Humberto Canale Old Vines 2015, made with grapes from a fifty-year-old Patagonian vineyard, a formula that has been followed by Matías Riccitelli for his 2016 varietal, which is produced with grapes from Rio Negro.

Meanwhile in Mendoza, each year, there are more styles of Semillon from different corners of the province. For example, Roberto de la Mota makes his Mendel Semillon 2016 with Altamira grapes, as well as Finca Suárez Semillón 2016, both with an excellent volume of ripe white fruits with flowers and shades of honey. Bodega Vistalba produces its Tomero Reserva 2013 thanks to its vineyards in Tupungato.

But there are also great examples from Luján de Cuyo, such as the classic Semillón by Ricardo Santos and one produced by Nieto Senetiner with grapes from Vistalba.

The secret to the resurgence of each of these varietals is that they have developed a unique profile with their own flavour.

This content has been provided by Wines of Argentina

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