known as "the land of sunshine and good wines"
is the most important city in the west of Argentina.
It is located at the foothills of the Andes mountain
range. Its glaciers are the essential irrigation source
of the vineyards, which due to the proximity to the
rivers form different oasis.
Mendoza is divided into regions according
to their climate.
Altitudes range from 600 to 700 meters
above sea level. The Departments of Luján de
Cuyo and Maipú form part of a traditional wine-producing
region known as the "prime zone" of the
Argentine wines. This designation results from the
prestigious labels coming from this area, historically
regarded as being among the best in Argentine wine
Luján de Cuyo has its own DOC,
and the altitude of this region range from 1.067 to
860 meters. Malbec is the most characteristic variety
in the region. This grape is used to produce a wine
that is emblematic of the region, the province and
the country. Other varieties with well defined personalities
like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay,
Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Viognier have been equally
successful in the region.
Mendoza’s "prime zone"
and the Uco valley are two of the most interesting
regions for the foreign investors who have been continuously
operating in the country since 1990.
Well inside the first mountainsides
of the Andes’ foothills, the Uco valley presents
the highest altitudes at which wines are produced
in the province of Mendoza: up to 1,400 meters above
sea level. The reasons why this region is so coveted
are its thermal amplitude and high solar radiation
levels. The combination of these factors results in
slow and balanced ripening cycles. Thus, both white
and red varieties give forth their primary varietal
bouquets. Particularly, in the case of the red varieties,
the tannins and color become fixed in the grape’s
skin, thus giving the wines intensity and structure.
The best wines are produced from grape varieties that
have short ripening cycles, especially Chardonnay,
Semillon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir. This also applies,
in some cases, to Malbec and Tempranillo.
Mendoza’s Eastern region
is a true wine-producing power considering its
vine-planted area and the quantity of wineries
concentrated there. Altitudes range from 750
to 640 meters, and the different zones in this
area are substantially distinct in terms of
climate, soil and thermal amplitude. All grape
varieties grown in Argentina can be found in
Mendoza’s eastern region, although Chardonnay,
Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin, Torrontés, and
Viognier stand out among the white varieties;
and Sangiovese, Syrah, Bonarda, Malbec, Merlot,
Barbera, and Tempranillo are the preferred red
ones. We should stress the excellent conditions
this region presents for the production of punch
and sweet wines (late vintage, fortified wines),
which is already underway thanks to the innovative
style of the area’s wineries.
Going South along Route 40, southbound,
we find the City of San Rafael. This city and
its surroundings are the last wine producing
oasis in the Province of Mendoza. The maximum
altitude on this slope is 750 meters in Las
Paredes, going down to 485 meters in General
Alvear. The Denomination of Origin (DOC) San
Rafael, issued in 1993, includes the Chardonnay,
Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chenin, Tocai Friulano,
Semillon, Torrontés, Cabernet Sauvignon,
Pinot Noir, Merlot, Malbec, Syrah, Barbera D’Asti,
and Bonarda varieties which, in turn, form the
basis of this region’s wines.