by Jonathan Kemp, Majestic Wines
The Argentine wine industry is the fifth largest producer of wine in the world and is currently producing some of the finest quality wines today.
Historically, Argentine winemakers were traditionally more interested in quantity than quality with the country consuming 90% of the wine it produces. Until the early 1990s, Argentina produced more wine than any other country outside Europe, though the majority of it was considered unexportable. However, the desire to increase exports fuelled significant advances in quality and over recent years has seen huge amount of investment and expertise.
While Argentina is South America’s largest wine producer and the world’s largest producer of it’s most famous export Malbec, its wine regions also grow a wealth of varietals from Torrontes to Riesling, Syrah to Bonarda, Cabernet Franc to Cabernet Sauvignon and the list goes on. All of these varieties are causing a real stir in the wine world and showcasing Argentina’s versatility and consistency.
Surprisingly, Malbec is not indigenous to Argentina. Rather, it’s a French varietal that arrived in Mendoza with immigrants in the mid-1850s. To the delight of farmers and winemakers – and quaffers – the European vines took to Mendoza’s loose sandy soil and desert climate.
Today, over 70 percent of Argentina’s wines come from Mendoza. Nestled on the east side of the Andes Mountains, Mendoza, dubbed a ‘high desert oasis’, gets less than 10 inches annual rainfall. So, vines rely on the Andes’ ample snowmelt for pure water. Despite its considerable reputation, only 3 percent of Mendoza is developed. The rest is desert. Yet, grapes have unusually long hang-time and thrive under powerful high altitude sun – vineyards are 2,000-7,000 feet – that shines over 300 days annually. While cool, crisp nights allow grapes to rest and retain acids vital to dynamic wines. This long hang-time creates the complex ripe characters we have come to adore in Argentinian wine.
Find out more about Argentine wine and get the opportunity to taste a selection chosen by Jonathan Kemp from Majestic Wines on Wednesday 10 December, 6pm. There will also be the opportunity to sample Empanadas, traditional Argentinian savoury snacks baked fresh by the Sugar Down Bakery.
Pre-show Argentinian Wine tasting £6. Limited places, pre booking essential.
This is one of a series of events linked to Live Theatre’s forthcoming play, Flying Into Daylight, the World Premiere of a brand new play by Emmy-Award winning writer Ron Hutchinson starting Summer Strallen and Jos Vantyler which follows Virginia who leaves everything behind to go to Buenos Aires to learn Tango. Flying Into Daylight is at Live Theatre from Thursday 27 November to Saturday 20 December 2014. More information and to book tickets.