The Bacchus Report: The height of wine-making
Written by: Libor Ševčík
Argentine wines made it big in Europe
before the now more popular Chilean wines. After a certain period
of stagnation Argentine wine makers have gotten their second wind.
foto: Věroslav Sixt
Argentina is the world's fifth-largest wine producer, But at the
end of the last century quantity ruled over quality. Huge batches
of low-quality wines were imported to Europe in tanks and combined
into second-rate table wines. The quality of Argentine wines is
improving, thanks to new plantings of noble varietals, the arrival
of a new generation of oenologists educated at the most prestigious
universities and viticulturists in the world, and investments in
Today vineyards are being planted far to the south, in Patagonia,
where the harsh climate benefits mainly white wines, but traditional
reds also take on extraordinary nuances of flavor. Nowhere but
here, in the Andean foothills, will one find such extensive vineyards
at such altitudes, with some at altitudes higher than the tallest
mountain in the Czech Republic. The world record for a vineyard
is 2,400 meters above sea level, close to the equator on Brazil's
border. The extreme height and harsh climate allow high-quality
grapes to be grown, even in such geographic locations. The largest
vineyards are on the Mendoza province plains. Due to a shortage
of precipitation (because most of the vineyards are shielded by
the Andes), they are artificially irrigated with water either from
mountain glaciers or artesian wells, of which there are about 50,000.
It's interesting that, unlike in neighboring Chile, in Argentina
the most widespread varietals are unknown in Europe. The whites
are dominated by Torrontés (see Wine Guide, opposite), and the
reds by Bonarda. There are also many other varietals that were
brought by immigrants from Italy, Spain, Germany, and Croatia,
such as the typical Italian varietal Tempranillo, German Rhine
Riesling, or Croatian Malvasia.
Argentine reds, full-bodied, often dark red and even opaque, have
earned the greatest reputation abroad. Thanks to the different
climate and subsoil on which the vines grow, wines from identical
varietals taste different from their European-grown counterparts.
For example, Argentina Malbec from Mendoza is far more opulent
than wines made from the same varietal grown in traditional French
regions. The same holds true for Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
The pride of every vintner is coupage, when they use the French
model for blending selected red varietals in all sorts of ratios.
The author is the editor of Hospodářské
noviny's IN magazine.
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· Viniční altán pod Gröbeho vilou, Havlíčkovy sady 1369, Praha
Nov. 4 - Austrian wines Walek. Information on tel.: 602 736 818
· November is the month of new wines: on Martin (Nov. 11) we have
the premiere of Czech and Moravian wines, while the third Thursday
(Nov. 18) welcomes Beaujolais nouveau.
Torrontés 2003, Michel Torino, Cafayate
Characteristics: Torrontés is the most widespread white
varietal in Argentina. The Torino family vineyards lie
beneath the Andes at the incredible altitude of 1,700
meters above sea level. Lots of sun and cool nights give
it a piquant, spicy aroma and flavor.
Price: 157 Kč (bez DPH / without VAT)
||Merlot Rosando 2003, Goyenechea,
Characteristics: A pleasant, fresh rosé with a strawberry aroma
Price: 289 Kč
Syrah 2002, Goyenechea, Mendoza
Characteristics: A real surprise for lovers of this very
Price: 289 Kč
||Merlot 1999 Infinitus, Humberto
Canale, Rio Negro, Patagonia
Characteristics: A full, markedly fruity, spicy wine with hints
of wild strawberries and a chocolaty finish from the southernmost
vineyards in the world.
Price: 820 Kč
Malbec 1997, Diego Murillo, Patagonia
Characteristics: A mature, full, smooth wine with a sour-cherry
aroma and hints of damson plums.
Price: 320 Kč
Torrontés - Vinicola Břeclav,
tel.: 519 236 450.
four others -
Jana Kadlecová, Argen wine, firstname.lastname@example.org
fax: 220 920 059