Getting to Know the New Capital of Malbec

Mendoza is the main winemaking province of Argentina, producing more than 80% of the country’s wines from its more than 395,000 acres of vineyards.

Much of what is produced in Mendoza is Malbec, the variety historically used as a minor blending ingredient in red Bordeaux, but now enjoying a starring role on another continent.

There are five large sub-regions in Mendoza: North, East, Center, South and Uco Valley (Valle de Uco).

• North
— Includes the municipalities of Lavalle, Guaymallén and Las Heras. It covers the lowest altitude areas irrigated by Río Mendoza.
Altitudes range between 1,900 and 2,300 feet above sea level, with mild slopes. Fine sand predominates in the soils. The region is well suited to the production of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Ugni Blanc, Torrontes, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonarda and Malbec.

• East
— With altitudes decreasing from 2,400 to 2,100 feet, this area presents substantial differences in climate, soil and temperature range. It comprises the departments of Rivadavia, San Martín, La Paz and Santa Rosa. All the grape varieties grown in Argentina are found in the East, but Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Torrontes, Viognier, Sangiovese, Syrah, Bonarda and Tempranillo stand out.

• Center
— This traditional winemaking region covers the departments of Lujan de Cuyo and Maipu, and is known as the “premium winemaking area (primera zona)” of Argentina. Its privileged location to the south of the city of Mendoza, its ideal altitudes and the quality of its soils have significantly contributed to its prestige. Altitude ranges from 2,130 to 3,500 feet above sea level. Its most characteristic variety is Malbec, which yields the iconic wine of the region, the province and the country. Other varieties found here include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

• Uco Valley
— This sub-region features the highest altitude vineyards in the province, at more than 5,580 feet above sea level. The Uco Valley comprises the Tupungato, Tunuyan and San Carlos departments. It stands out for its ideal conditions for the production of top-quality grapes, yielding both white and red wines with great aging potential.
The most traditional varieties here are the Malbec, Merlot and Pinot Noir of La Consulta district. White varieties grown in the area include Chardonnay and Semillon.

• South
Comprised of the San Rafael and General Alvear departments.
Altitudes come down from 2,600 to 1,480 feet above sea level.
It is the main producer of Chenin Blanc.
Other standout varieties include Chardonnay, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Posted in Wine Region Profiles
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