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On trend: Five Argentine grape varieties to know

In partnership with Wines of Argentina

Looking to explore other wines styles? Read about five varieties showing their strength in Argentina...

In partnership with Wines of Argentina

Cabernet Franc

three Argentinean grape varieties

Could Cabernet Franc rub shoulders with Malbec as a top Argentinean grape?

What is Cabernet Franc?

Cabernet Franc is a black grape variety that hails from France’s Loire Valley. It’s often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, but it’s seeing success in Argentina as a single-varietal wine.

It may not match the volumes that Argentina produces of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, but what has made it out onto the world wine stage has often been well received by critics and consumers.

Patricio Tapio, wine writer and Regional Chair for Argentina and the rest of South America at the Decanter World Wine Awards tipped it for success last year —

‘The little Cabernet Franc that is produced in Argentina is surprisingly very good, and sometimes superb – it seems that producers have finally found a worthy companion to Malbec.’

What does Argentine Cabernet Franc taste like?

The best examples of Argentine Cabernet Franc often have fresh and herbal notes, and come from high altitude vineyards such as in Gualtallary or Uco Valley, receiving minimal new wood contact.

Pinot Noir

Three Argentinean grape varieties

Pinot Noir grapes from Patagonia’s Río Negro at Bodega Chacra.

What is Pinot Noir?

Pinot Noir is a red grape variety, historically famous for making wine in the limestone slopes of Burgundy. It’s also one of the three grapes traditionally used to make Champagne, along with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier.

Due to its thin skin, it often makes wines that are light in colour, body and tannins, but capable of great complexity and depth.

You might think Argentina’s intense sun exposure would be too much for the typically temperamental Pinot Noir, and largely you’d be right. But in parts of northern Patagonia producers have been scoring high with their old vine Pinot Noirs grown at lofty altitudes. Look out for examples from Río Negro valley, 620 miles south of Buenos Aires.

What does Argentine Pinot Noir taste like?

Some of the top Pinot Noirs from northern Patagonia are noted for red fruit and mineral undertones, with silky smooth tannins, low alcohol and good ageing potential.


three Argentinean grape varieties

Chardonnay can be a good fit for Argentina’s cool climate terroirs…


What is Chardonnay?

Chardonnay is the third most planted grape variety in the world, due to its ability to adapt to a wide range of terroirs, from cool Burgundian hillsides to hot Californian plains.

Subsequently, it comes in many styles of white wine. Even within France, Chardonnay from Chablis might be unoaked and minerally, whereas a bottle from Chassagne-Montrachet will likely have a buttery, oaky and nutty complexity. It’s also one of the three main grapes used in Champagne.

Chardonnay’s versatility as both a single varietal and blended wine has led producers to experiment with this grape in Argentina, with pleasing results. Especially in high altitude and cool climate regions like Mendoza, which currently has over by 5,000 hectares devoted to Chardonnay — by far the most in the country.


Concrete eggs in the winery

Concrete eggs can be used for extended lees contact…

Some Argentine producers have incorporated concrete eggs in their wineries, which are good for resting Chardonnay on the lees, producing wines with more pronounced nutty flavours.

What does Argentine Chardonnay taste like?

In the high altitudes of Mendoza, intense sun exposure should allow grapes to fully ripen, giving forth fresh fruit flavours, followed by cool night time temperature that preserve acidity levels. Many areas in Uco Valley also have calcareous soils that can give a mineral edge.


What is Merlot?

Merlot is a red grape variety, and recognised as one of the main varieties of Bordeaux blends, primarily planted on the right bank. It is softer and more approachable than Cabernet Sauvignon, with mellow tannins.

In Argentina, Merlot suits the higher altitude, cooler vineyards and most of it is planted in Mendoza.

Cool climate Merlot can produce a delicate wine, although may have some, underripe vegatal tones.

famous Merlot

What does Argentine Merlot taste like?

Argentine Merlot has aromas of blackcurrent fruit, with cedar and spices. In cooler climates like Uco Valley and Patagonia, it may have some sweet, bell pepper too.

Petit Verdot

What is Petit Verdot?

Petit Verdot is a thick-skinned grape that is capable of producing intense red wines. It is another variety found in Bordeaux blends; but often only a small percentage is included.

Single-varietal Petit Verdot is found commonly in Spain, California, Australia and Argentina, producing deeply coloured, high tannin, structured wines.

What does Argentine Petit Verdot taste like?

These wines have black fruits aromas of blackberry and ripe black current, with further complexity from smoke and coffee notes, with the ability to age. It tends to be grown in Mendoza and the Uco Valley.

This article was created by Decanter and has been published in partnership with Wines of Argentina as part of a sponsored campaign on Decanter.com.

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