Unless you’ve had a chance to attend one of our wine tastings in Buenos Aires, or tour some of the over 1400 wineries of Argentina, you might not know how unique the terroir of the wine producing regions here are compared to the other major regions of the world, such as Italy, France, Spain, Chile, and California in the United States. Terroir is a French term to describe all the special features of a location and how they shape the characteristics of a crop. Elements of terroir can include the geography, climate, soil makeup, and even what plans are grown nearby. Most commonly the term is used when describing wine, but terroir can also have a notable impact on coffee, cocoa beans, and tea. Getting into the technicalities of Argentina’s wine terroir is important to truly understanding it.
Unquestionably, the most defining aspect of the Argentine terroir is the Andes Mountain range that separates Argentina and Chile. The large majority of the wine regions here in Argentina, including Mendoza, are desert-like with very little rainfall. This is because they are in a rain shadow. Moisture comes off the Pacific Ocean and passes over Chile, hits the Andes Mountains on the Chilean side, and falls as rain, leaving little moisture to make it to Argentina, and potentially cause mold and fungus.
Also, because the vast majority of the 2200 km long wine region is along the base of the Andes, the vineyards are the highest in the World. This causes a wider temperature differential between night and day; leading to tightly packed bunches of small grapes with a high concentration of sugars, which winemakers prize greatly.
Argentina’s wine terroir is also different because it is the only major continental wine region in the world, as compared to a coastal wine region. Coastal regions have higher humidity, and more variable and unpredictable weather patterns, often leading to damage to the grapes from fungus and rot. Another risk in coastal regions is salt water entering the ground water, and harming the vines. Luckily, here in Argentina we don’t have those problems because of the distinctive features of the terroir.
These are just a few of the reasons why Argentine wine is so unique, and taking the wine drinking world by storm.
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