In Argentina can be clearly recognize about eight wine regions lined up from north to south in the foot of the Andes range. These regions are singular for their strong winter, very hot summer and plentiful sunlight hours. Added to this, sparse annual rainfall has favored the use of artificial irrigation creating perfectly well cared oasis.
Most of the vineyards are situated on the valleys. It almost doesn’t exist vineyards in the mountain slopes, opposite to what happens in Europe, New Zeland and South África. The altitude of the cultivated valleys is between 450 and 1800 meters above sea level.
It is a wine tour that lasts between 15 and 20 days, along the Cordillera de Los Andes and gives the opportunity of getting to know all the terroir of Argentina. It starts in Neuquén and Río Negro.
The Río Negro Valleys is a southern region and it is a traditional fruit producing region (apples, pears, etc.) in fields irrigated by the Río Negro river, with an altitued of 300 meters above the sea level. The climate is warm and dry, with remarkable temperature changgings between day and night and the ground has the typical characteristics of a desertic area. It produces wines with a high level of alcohol and specially the variety of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the main componenets of the best champaignes.
Then it continues in Mendoza, where you can taste the best of the province and delight yourselves with its most famous varietal, Malbec. The region has to be divided in areas because it has different climate altitude and ground characteristics.
South: This region is composite by the departments of San Rafael and Gral. Alvear at the feet of Los Andes mountain, next to the patagonic province of Neuquén (latitude 35º south). It is a real oasis located in the mendocinian aridity and irrigated by the fast waters of Atuel and Diamante rivers. It has an altitude of 800 and 450 meters above the sea level and stony ground with abundant calcareo materials.
North of Mendoza: Mendoza, the main wine region, has its areas irrigated by the Mendoza river. The ground is deep and with short slope. Its temperatures are about 25ºC in summer and 7ºC in the coldest month of the year. It produces wines of regular category but also the best wines of the country.
The East of Mendoza: It is the region that produces the largest quantity of wine of the province, wich at the same time is the biggest producer of the country. It is an oasis irrigated by the Tunuyán river, with an altitude of 750 meters above the sea level and about 60000 hectares of vineyards. The latitude is 33º south, with deep stony ground and temperatures of 24,5ºC in summer and 6,6ºC in the coldest month.
Valle de Uco: The big changes on temperature (about 15ºC between day and night) is very good for the developement of the colors and tanins in the red wines that makes them appropriate for storage in wineries and long aging.
Continuing the trip, it arrives to San Juan, well known for its Zonda, Ullum and Tulum. It has a very dry climate. It is the second productive province of the country, with the 25% of the total vineyards. Between the most cultivated varietals, Syrah is the main one and is used to elaborate most of the wines that proudly identifies the region.
La Rioja is the next stop. Here you can find the Famatina Valleys, antique wine region that enlarges in La Rioja province and part of Catamarca. It is a big irrigated valley with an altitude of 935 meters above the sea level. The region has sparse rainfalls (an average of 130mm. a year), and mild winds. It has 7000 cultivated hectares (aprox.).
This amazing trip goes on to Catamarca, one of the latest regions to become part of the wine map of Argentina. With sandy grounds, warm climate, the temperatures change a lot between day and night with an altitude of 1500 meters. It has great qualities for producing good wines. The best adapted varieties are Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Finally it arrives to Salta, where you can visit the Calchequíes Valley, with the locality of Cafayate as the vitivinicultural centre, this valleys are located in the Salta province (northeast), with an altitude of 1500 to 1900 meters above the sea level, a desertic climate, warm and dry climate, great sunlight and big temperature changes between day and night. The ground is deep, sandy, rich in minerals and poor in nitrogen. This last charasteristic increases the perfums and taste of each variety.
The landscapes are amazing, with paths between hills and colorful towns, with a lot of old-style buildings. There, the highest expression is reached with the Torrontés grape.