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In an uncertain world, resilience and ingenuity have allowed Argentine producers to assemble a delicious patchwork of wines from the ends of the earth. This report shares the latest news from the terroirs of the Uco Valley, offers tips about some alternative varieties from the east of Mendoza, highlights up-and-coming regions to look out for and presents an in-depth look at a handful of new trends and styles, reflecting a scene as varied as it is alluring.
Argentina is enjoying a resurgence in white wines. After several decades in which the focus has been on reds, producers have been exploring new, creative territory based on bringing out the best of the country’s cool, continental sites. The result has been an explosion in new approaches, several of which have produced excellent wines, but others have not fared so well.
Verticals & Retrospectives, Chile, featured
In South America, some wines tell a story while others represent an entire era. There is no doubt that in Chile, Viñedo Chadwick is one of the latter. On my last trip to the country, I had the opportunity to explore 21 chapters of that tale, from beginning to end. Here is a journey through both the style of this Cabernet Sauvignon and the history of a terroir that has earned its name in Maipo.
Chile is a country experiencing major upheavals in the wine scene. This report bears witness to a wide range of regions, beyond Maipo, where new flavor palates are emerging and further identifies the current trends in classic varieties and the challenges producers face today. The result, following a tasting of 800 wines, is an increasingly complex wine map, rich in different styles, varieties and flavors.
It’s difficult to summarize a vintage in a country where coastal and mountain valleys experience very different conditions, but the numbers show that 2022 in Chile was defined by two stand out phenomena: a lack of water and associated lack of relative humidity, as well as low temperatures. In the context of a drought that has been going on for 13 years now and a 2021 winter with some of the lowest rainfalls ever recorded from Maule to the north, the lack of water and low humidity accelerated ripening processes in the same way as one sees in hot years.
In a world working hard to reduce the effects of global warming caused by human activity, every little bit helps. It doesn’t matter whether action is taken in economic powerhouses such as China or the USA, or somewhere down at the southern edge of the world like Chile. In this long, skinny country at the bottom of South America, where green hydrogen and renewables are viable medium-term options for powering the country, the wine industry is taking responsibility and playing its part.
It is pretty unusual that in mid-April there aren’t many grapes left to harvest in Argentina, where winery doors typically close in early May. For better or worse, unusual weather makes for an unusual vintage. Overall, the 2022 harvest can be summed up as one of great quality. Bumps in the road could be overcome by good decision-making and precise timing.
From the Río Colorado to Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia spans the southern half of Argentina. The wine industry here has waxed and waned at different periods over the 20th and 21st centuries. One can find old vineyards planted in former riverbeds alongside brand-new vines growing right out on the steppe. With the historic allure of an ancient frontier, wines from these southern terroirs offer a range of different characteristics. Following three separate trips and 164 wines tasted in December 2021, this is my dispatch from the end of the world.
General Interest, featured
For me, 2021 had its ups and downs: I suffered through a severe case of COVID, discovered a treasure trove of wine and fell in love with the fish of the Paraná River. And in the meantime, I was able to taste almost 3,000 bottles from Argentina and Chile and got a sneak peek into what’s in store for us in 2022.
In this extensive report, I take a look at the current state of the wine scene in Argentina, a country where creativity is necessary for survival. Malbecs have grown increasingly diverse and reflect the range of terroirs, while a number of new trends are developing. From Cabernet Franc to Pinot Noir, high altitude vineyards are lending real energy and quality to a host of different reds.