Get to Know Mendoza
What is it?
Mendoza is a wine growing region in the foothills of the Argentinan Andes that has one of the highest average elevations in the world. The region is hugely famous for its Malbec production but several other grapes grow very well here too. The cooling influence of the altitude and the abundance of sun allows the grapes to ripen and produce juicy, full bodied wines with notes of black fruit and mocha.
What grows there?
Sitting in the foothills of the Andes, near Aconcagua (South America’s highest point) the region is famous for producing full bodied Malbec. However there has been a recent interest in alternative grapes such as Bonarda, Chardonnay and Torrontes in particular. The long, sunny days allow the grapes to ripen fully and the cool mountain air extends the growing season so the wines develop complexity. Expect robust and full bodied reds that are full of fruit with some vanilla and spice from the oak and floral, aromatic whites that are both elegant and complex.
What does it taste like?
Mendoza Malbec has a full bodied palate with plenty of rich plum and dark cherry on the palate and coffee, dark chocolate, vanilla and baking spice on the finish. Bonarda has a higher acidity and less tannin so the wines feel fresher and more crisp but still intense with notes of summer berry and anise. Chardonnay from Mendoza ripens really well so the wines are quite rich and full. The use of oak ageing adds smoothness and complexity. Expect tropical fruit, vanilla, cream and brioche. These wines are similar to wines from Macon in Burgundy. Torrontes is much lighter and crisp with a fresh acidity and a distinct floral note.
What does it pair with?
The classic pairing with Malbec is steak. Steakhouses serving steak and Malbec line the streets of Mendoza city centre. The wine also pairs well with hearty veggie dishes and strong cheeses such as gruyere. Bonarda is a match for lighter grilled meats with its fresh acidity to cut through the meal. Grilled veggies and creamy cheeses work well. Chardonnay will pair well with roast chicken and veggies and sharp cheeses. Torrontes is delightful on its own on a summer’s day but will also pair with seafood, summer salads and creamy cheeses.
With vines planted right up to 1,500m of elevation, Mendoza has some of the highest altitude vineyards in the world. Mendoza is also one of the driest wine regions in the world with less than 25 centimeters of rain each year. The vast majority of water for the vines comes from the melting snow from the Andes.