The light smokiness, soft tannins and rich fruit flavors of Argentinean Malbec have won the attention of wine aficionados
Clear streams of thawed ice run from the snow-capped mountains that line the horizon and moisten the light soil. The soothing breeze is dry and cool. Malbec red grapes bask in the glow of the morning sun, the warm golden rays coaxing them to ripen gently. Vineyards cannot be prettier than this! This is Mendoza, Argentina’s Napa Valley.
At the Adrianna Vineyard of Catena Zapata Winery, the Malbec is precious. The grape adds a sweet undertone and velvety texture to their flagship wine Nicolás Catena Zapata, a blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon produced only in outstanding vintage years. At an altitude of nearly 5,000 feet, the Adrianna itself is unique as one of the highest vineyards in the world. The better known Napa Valley vineyards are no comparison at just 2,500 feet!
For vineyards in Mendoza, height is everything. Altitude adds uniqueness and pure flavors to their grapes. Unsurprisingly, the 2004 Malbec from Adrianna was rated 95 out of a possible 100 by Wine Spectator – the most influential voice in the wine industry.
Like the Malbec, an unglamorous Bordeaux blending grape which chose to reveal its hidden splendors in the Andes valley, Mendoza has spectacularly transformed itself from obscurity to wine-world stardom by turning out superior and sophisticated wines that are now enjoyed across the world. Wine exports are now estimated at $500 million annually and rising steadily, providing much vigor to the region’s economy. Nestled high in the Andes, bordering Chile, the province of Mendoza now hosts the many thousands who visit to taste the produce from more than 1,000 vineries in the region and take in the spectacular views.
In a way, Mendoza embodies modern Argentina. After a long period of relative underperformance, the country’s economy is now awakening with confidence and bountiful energy. Traditional strengths have been burnished and new skills are being nurtured. Argentina – young, vibrant, and colorful, just like the wines from Mendoza.
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