Approved by the INV viticultural institute on 1 July, Balcarce is the fourth GI to be named in the province of Buenos Aires. The province was largely abandoned as a winemaking region in the 1930s following a law permitting wine to be made only in the Andean Cuyo region, but is is slowly making a name for itself once again with cool climate vintages.
Encompassing coast, prairie and the Tandilia mountains, Balcarce is located 37 miles from the Atlantic Ocean and has until recently been known for potato cultivation and a popular eponymous meringue-based dessert. One of the province’s 135 districts, the GI covers the partido’s entire geographic mass, spanning 4,121km².
Balcarce’s contemporary winemaking story began nine years ago when Jorge Pérez Companc of Bodega Puerta del Abra planted 12 hectares of Chardonnay, Riesling, Albariño, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Bonarda and Tannat to create El Vallecito vineyard. Keen to learn more about his land’s potential, he hired terroir experts Lydia and Claude Bourguignon to dig deeper; their soil studies unearthed high quantities of clay and limestone. Companc then decided to push ahead and seek IG status via his company, La Gloriosa. To date, Puerta del Abra remains the only winery with a physical presence in Balcarce.
GI approval means the winery can distinguish itself from other GIs in the province of Buenos Aires, such as Chapadmalal, home to Trapiche’s Costa & Pampa, as well as Médanos (Al Este Bodega & Viñedos) and Villa Ventana (Cerro Colorado winery), said Puerta del Abra’s winemaker Delfina Pontaroli.
‘It’s important as it allows us to stand out from other vineyards and producers in the province of Buenos Aires that have already shown that their zones and wines are very different in character and quality,’ she said.
It also spells good news to boost diversity in winemaking, according to Alejandro Vigil, president of Wines of Argentina. ‘Any zone that emerges means new possibilities, varieties and flavours, enhancing the spectrum for consumers. Putting its name on a label also triggers their curiosity to visit.’
With regards to climate, the Winkler II region benefits from strong winds year round as well as rain during the growth period. Average summer temperatures in January are 21.1ºC while July’s winter average is 7.6°C.
With this wider Balcarce IG now in the bag, the next step for the winery will be to continue identifying the district’s diverse terroir.