Certain regions in South America are developing a huge reputation for quality products at reasonable prices. One example is the wines of Argentina. This is the number one wine producing country in this part of the world now rivaling the US and their quality products demonstrate why.
As the fifth largest wine producing country in the world, this region produces flavorful, robust spirits that fit just about any budget. Only about ten to fifteen percent is actually exported leaving the rest for the citizenry of this area to enjoy. However, this trend is changing due to the increased interest as well as the increasing demands worldwide.
Bordering on Chili's west side, the Mendoza area of Argentina is the most well-known for wine production. They have several regions devoted to this industry including Agrelo, Maipu, Uco Valley, and Luja de Cuyo. Both this area and others have dynamic growing conditions as well as good soil. The variety of elevations which accommodate varying sunlight and temperature also impact the outcome of vintages.
San Juan is another popular area where grapes are grown due to the acreage devoted to this industry as well as the volume they are able to produce. This region is somewhat hotter and dryer than Mendoza and produces premium reds as well as a sherry-style wines, brandies, and vermouth.
According to Argentinean laws, for wines which carry the name of a grape, 80% of the vintage must contain that particular origin. Although the industry began with pink skin varieties such as Criolla Chica, Criolla Grande, and Cereza, these still make up almost 30% of the harvest in today's vineyards. Some of these clusters weigh up to nine pounds and often produce deep white or pink sweet vintages.
One of the most popular grapes used today is Malbec. Originally from France it is deep red in color yet is different than their French counterparts in that the clusters are smaller and they are lighter in weight. This generates a rich, fruity flavor as well as a silky texture. One of the advantages of the versions produced in this region is the higher alcohol levels resulting from higher temperatures and soft, ripe tannins.
There are now over 1500 wineries producing wines of Argentina. Two of the largest, Bodegas Esmeralda and Penaflor produce nearly 40% of all vintages which produce some of the finest wines in the country. Today's trend is toward improving quality by controlling yields. The results of this ideology have been mixed. However, it is agreed that some of the finest vintages at the most reasonable price points are now available in this country.