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Inject some Latin spirit into your life with Argentinian tipples

Fri 12 Feb 2010 09:37


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Argentina has huge wine potential, without a doubt. Although still quite young in terms of quality wines and exports to the UK, the country has some of the most unique wine growing conditions on the whole planet, giving it a real edge.

Running all the way down its western border with Chile, are the Andes Mountains, one of the world's highest ranges dominated by Mount Aconcagua at almost 23,000 feet . These mountains are crucial to wine making in the desert conditions as snow melt provides irrigating water, and planting high on the slopes brings cooler conditions.

In fact some vineyards are planted at 10,000 feet - more than twice as high as the summit of Ben Nevis.

The country is already making some great wines, but keep a particularly close eye out for Malbec in reds and Torrontés in whites. These are two of its signature varieties, and provide a great base to work from before exploring the other styles.

Wine expert Tom Cannavan has selected three of his favourite wine picks from Argentina, to give a good start-point for anyone wanting to explore some of the deliciouswines produced by the country.

1. Lorca, Torrontés 2008, Argentina, priced at £7.49 from Majestic (or buy two at £6.99 each until 26th April)
From the Famatina Valley, 2,952 feet above sea level, this is a classic example of Argentina's own white wine grape, Torrontés. A fresh, unoaked wine, this is all about capturing the vivid aromas and flavours of the grape, and it does so very convincingly.

With fresh flavours of lemons, jasmine and fresh green herbs, this selections goes along nicely with smoked meats, prawns with garlic, ceviche and other dishes with lemon and garlic.

2. Viñalba, Malbec Syrah 2006, Argentina, priced at £7.48 from Asda

This wine blends Argentina's flagship red grape Malbec with a little Syrah, producing a winning combination. In fact, this wine won a gold medal in the International Wine Challenge, and with a nice bit of maturity under its belt (from the 2006 vintage) it is drinking beautifully now.

With tasting cues of cherries, prunes and coffee beans, this wine goes along well with dishes like fillet steak served with peppercorn sauce and beef empanadas (spicy beef pasties).

3. Colomé, Tannat 2008, Argentina, priced at £9.99 from Marks & Spencer
 Tannat is a relatively unusual grape for Argentina, thought there's a lot of planted in neighbouring Uruguay (and in Southwest France, its original home).

This one really is a cracker from some of Argentina's highest vineyards at around 8,000 feet: big, voluptuous and full of personality.

With gorgeous flavours of plums, blackberries and chocolate this goes really well with any barbecued dishes, grilled meats, chorizo or spicy casseroles.

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