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Argentina - Mendoza Region


Award-winning wines from the foothills of the Andes Mountains

Like many wine producing countries, Argentina can trace its wines back many centuries. The first plantings were recorded around 1550, when Spanish colonizers rooted the first vitis vinifera vines in the country. Aided by the favorable weather conditions of the Andes Mountains, the vines quickly spread to a number of areas throughout the country. An influx of European immigrants during the 19th Century brought new winemaking techniques and additional grape varietals to the existing vineyards.

By the start of the 20th Century, more than 500,000 acres were planted, mostly for local consumption. Large production plants were located in key areas that provided crucial consumption areas with a plentiful supply of Argentine wine. Introduction of soft drinks and beer into the country caused the local wine consumption market to collapse in the 1970’s. By the early 1990’s, a new era for the Argentine wine industry was formalized. Small quantities of high caliber wines were produced, with an eye toward export and the high end of local consumption.

As in many other countries, this format has proven to be an enormous success. Smallish, boutique-like wineries have won their place in international competitions with quality wines that accurately reflect the terroir of their individual locations. Argentina has quickly become the largest exporter of wine in South America, and its southern hemisphere location’s growing season (October until February) gives it a head start on European and American growing competitors. It is also a country devoid of the feared phylloxera, the pest that has devastated the vineyards of both Europe and the United States.

The turn of this century found more than 1500 wineries in Argentina, with many of these in the smaller, boutique categories. More care in farming (reducing the yield for higher quality) procedures and strict attention to modern winemaking techniques have made Argentina a main player on the international wine scene.

Even though there was a major influx of foreign investment (particularly from France and the United States), a high number of these new wineries are owned by Argentine citizens. This is an important factor and insures that additional wineries will be forthcoming based on the success of locally owned wineries and vineyards.

Part of this accumulated success should be given to the international acceptance of the malbec grape that has reached its zenith in Argentina. Nowhere else on the planet does this Bordeaux varietal thrive as it does in Argentina, and its scores and accolades have continued to mount with each passing vintage.
Argentine wineries have been smart to recognize this and additional plantings of malbec will assure of a continued supply of top quality fruit in the future.

To say that the future looks rosy (red) for Argentine wines is somewhat ludicrous, for the future for this beautiful part of the world in now. Argentina’s wines will continue to grow in quality and popularity as more and more of these small wineries test the international market.


  1. Mendel
    2011 Proprietary Red Blend
    Mendel
    Unus - Argentina
    International

    $41.00

    $48.00
    93 - Robert Parker
    id: 2345
    International
  2. Mendel
    2013 Semillon
    Mendel
    Argentina
    International

    $21.00

    $25.00
    91 - Robert Parker
    id: 2346
    International
  3. Chaman
    2011 Proprietary Red Blend
    Chaman
    Argentina
    International

    $17.00

    $23.00
    92 - Beverage Testing Insti.
    id: 2347
    Special
    International

Two very unique and talented winemakers

Luis Reginato, Bodegas Chaman
Luis Reginato is the son of founder Jose Reginato and is also the head winemaker for his family’s Bodega Chaman. He was born in Altamire, La Consulta and studied agronomy at the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Argentina’s most heralded viticultural program. He had traveled all over the world extorting the merits of Argentine wines and consults for other Argentine entities including the well-known Luca Wines. Reginato is also a firm proponent for utilizing older vines, a relative rarity in the new planting culture that has ruled Argentina for the past two decades. While he is considered a new breed winemaker, he still adheres to many of the established winemaking techniques and procedures from Argentina’s past.

Roberto de la Mota, Bodegas Mendel
Son of legendary Argentine winemaker Raul de la Mota, Roberto has been making wines for almost four decades. De la Mota graduated from the School Technico Agraria Michel Pouget in Mendoza in 1979 with a Bachelor of Agricultural Technical and Oenologist degree. He apprenticed under his father at Bodegas Weinert and also worked for the legendary French enologist Emile Peynaud in Bordeaux. He was also winemaker for the prestigious Bodegas Chandon and headed their joint venture with Chateau Cheval Blanc that was called Cheval de los Andes. The project begun more than a decade ago and met with great critical acclaim and success. Now 54, de la Mota is partially paralyzed from a car accident, but shows no signs of slowing up. He is well known for introducing the Mendel Semillon, the only serious Semillon produced in Argentina.

Two very unique and boutique wineries

Bodegas Chaman, San Carlos Region, Uco Valley
This winery traces its roots back many decades through the Reginato family and its vineyard holdings. Family patriarch Jose Reginato planted the original vineyards more than 50 years ago and took special care to match the vines with the individual micro climates that his land enjoyed. He still oversees the vineyard part of the Bodegas Chaman operation and assures near perfect fruit from his vines.

By the way, the Argentine word chaman is translated into shaman in English, and stands for a most unique individual that brings guidance to the present by accessing knowledge of the past. He is something of a magical healer or a medicinal sorcerer. A modern interpretation for a chaman could also be called a soul doctor, and this name somehow applies to Jose Reginato’s incredible ability to pull from the soil the marvelous fruit that makes Bodegas Charman’s impressive wines. The wines from this bodegas are almost always blends, comprising a number of Bordelaise varietals. Included are the prestigious cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and the malbec, Argentina’s most heralded grape varietal.

The Uco Valley sits at an altitude of around 3300 feet above sea level, among the higher growing elevations in the entire world. Its height has a profound effect on the regions terroir. The area is filled with intense sunlight during the daytime and then is cooled at night by the winds coming off the Andes Mountains. This dinural temperature variation occurs during the entire growing season and allows the fruit to achieve a grand balance of both acidity and ripeness. The soils are also a marvelous help to the vineyards. Stony and sand-filled, the terrain forces the vines to work harder for hydration and nutrients, which leads to healthier plants that produce higher quality grapes.

An interesting facet of the Bodegas Chaman operation is the fact that each annual blend is derived by which grapes create the most magic together when finally blended. This pairing will vary from year to year and makes for most interesting comparisons when older vintages are tasted at the same time.

Bodegas Mendel, Mendoza
Bodegas Mendel is a relatively new Argentine winery that was founded in 2003 by architect Anabelle Sielecki and winemaker Roberto de la Mota. It consists of an original 15 acres that date back to 1926 along with some newly acquired properties (that the company leases) in different sections of Mendoza.

The partnership formed by Sielecki and de la Mota has proven to be incredibly successful. The pair chose the best blocks from their original (ancient) vineyards and has blended them with equally successful blocks from their newer vineyard acquisitions.

For the record, Mendel is the first name of Anabelle Sielecki’s father. He came to Argentina and became successful in a number of different businesses. Mendel Sielecki loved the finer things in life and was a devotee of fine wines. Anabelle has honored her father by seeking perfection in her and Roberto de la Mota’s wines.

Roberto de la Mota’s reputation is simply that he consistently makes wines of classic structure, elegance and finesse, unlike the hulking, over-plush, over-oaked wines that some modern Argentine producers have popularized.

About The Region

Argentina’s highly successful grape growing region is centered on the City of Mendoza, in the country’s north-central section. It’s location in the eastern foothills of the great Andes Mountains provides Mendoza with almost ideal growing conditions and makes the country one of South America’s leading wine producers along with neighboring Chile. Nearly two thirds of Argentina’s wines are produced here in addition to a larger percentage of the country’s highest quality wines. Elevations for the vineyards are from 2,800 feet up to 5,000 feet, and are among the highest in the wine producing world. Soil composition throughout the entire region is mostly alluvial in nature, composed of loose sand over clay. A number of mountain rivers, fueled by glacial runoff in the Andes, provide excellent water for the vineyards that are also supplied by thousands of boreholes scattered throughout the region. Mendoza has several sub-regions, including the Lujan de Cuyo Region (the region’s first appellation, so honored in 1993), that is highly esteemed for its plantings of Argentina’s most successful red grape, the malbec.


Empanadas de Carne de Res


Ingredients

1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/4 cup chopped pimento-stuffed olives
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1 17 oz. package puff pastry sheets, thawed
1 raw egg
1 tsp. water


Instructions

Heat the vegetable oil in a 10-inch skillet. Add the onion and saute for 2 minutes, until the onion turns translucent. Add the ground beef, and brown for about 4 minutes, until the beef is completely cooked. Add the olives, raisins, egg, garlic and season with salt. Stir to combine well, then remove from the heat and cool slightly. Heat your oven to 350 degrees. On a floured surface, unfold one of the sheets of puff pastry, and roll out with a rolling pin so that the folds are no longer visible. Sprinkle a bit of extra flour on the top surface of the pastry for easier rolling.

Use a 5” to 6” round cutter or template to cut out circles from the dough. If the dough seems too small to yield 4 circles per sheet of puff pastry, simply roll the pastry a bit thinner and wider. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the raw egg and water. Set aside.

Fill each pastry circle with 2-3 Tbs. of the meat mixture. Pinch the edges of the circle together well to seal and form a half-moon shape. Place the empanada on a parchment lined baking sheet, and seal the empanadas once again by pressing down the pinched edges with the tines of a fork. Once all the empanadas are well sealed, brush the top and edges with the egg mixture.

Bake the empanadas in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are golden brown. Cool slightly before serving.




Grilled Gaucho Steak with Chimichurri Sauce


Ingredients

For the Chili Water:
1 Tbs. smoked paprika
2 Tbs. salt
1 cup warm water

For the Chimichurri Sauce:
1 bundle fresh flat leaf parsley
8 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 Tbs. fresh oregano
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbs. lime juice
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs. skirt steak or flank steak, trimmed


Instructions

For the Chili Water: Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.
For the Chimichurri Sauce: Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until coarsely chopped. Set aside.

Prepare a medium-hot fire in the grill. Place the steaks on the grill and baste a couple of times with Chili Water. Cook about 4 to 6 minutes on each side, then transfer to a platter to let rest for 15 minutes. Slice the meat lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices and toss with chimichurri sauce.



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