The long, luxuriant days of the Argentine summer are upon us, even in the cooler Mendoza highlands. Here, verdant rows of ripening grapes glow in the afternoon sunlight, as if in anticipation of the early March harvest. This is Argentina’s wine country, these days most famously home of the increasingly popular Malbec.
The roots of Argentina’s winemaking industry are primarily Spanish, with a few other European vintages aging in the arid Andean foothills of western Argentina, which produces about two-thirds of this nation’s wine. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Criolla Grande, Tempranillo, and Cereza grapes are all pressed into export-quality bottles that get plenty of international press. But, it is a modest French grape, back home usually mixed with better vintages into hearty table wines, that is making a fuss.