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Although Malbec is King in Mendoza, it doesn’t mean that Mendoza’s winemakers rest on their laurels. Mendoza is a hive of innovation with hundreds of winemakers working in the wine region and developing new styles and wines to delight winelovers around the world. Here are some wine trends in Mendoza to keep your eye on:
Argentina is undergoing a white wine revolution and one way in which winemakers are looking to create food-worthy white wines is by making them with extended skin contact (aka orange wines). There are varying degrees of orange being produced today, ranging from a few days of skin contact through to several months. Varieties that are particularly well-suited to making orange wines, include the Criolla varieties and especially Torrontes. Complex, aromatic and structured, Mendoza’s orange wines are ideal for hearty mountain cuisine. The first orange wine producer in Mendoza was Matias Michelini in 2011, who now makes several different orange wines under his Passionate Wine label. Today other winemakers and brands known for their orange wine include Santiago Salgado (Finca Las Payas), German Masera (Escala Humana), Pielihueso, Finca Beth and Almanegra.
Carbonic maceration Malbec (and Bonarda)
Making a juicier style of Malbec has become one of the key trends in Argentina’s wine scene over the last few years. One way to achieve that fruitier and fresher character is with carbonic maceration (as used in Beaujolais), and Mendoza’s winemakers have adopted the practice with great enthusiasm for younger wines and different lines. With bright berry and floral aromas, lighter tannins and a fresher finish, Malbec made in this style is ultimately gluggable! Another red variety which is increasingly being made now with carbonic maceration is Bonarda — the second most planted red variety in Argentina. Winemakers with carbonic-maceration Malbecs to try include Marcelo Pelleriti, Alejandro Vigil, Matias Riccitelli, Sebastian Zuccardi and Matias Michelini.
Argentina’s winemakers are not only exploring new territories in terms of vineyard plantations but also planting new varieties. Today you’ll find exciting wines being made with Marsanne and Roussanne (Ver Sacrum, Matervini), Fiano (Caelum, Alma Gemela) and Verdelho (Zuccardi). These experimentations with exotic varieties haven’t started recently though, Argentina’s winemakers are also rediscovering old varieties that have been planted here for decades and fallen under the radar, until now. Interesting old vines to look into include Bequignol (Escala Humana), Trousseau/Bastardo (Marcelo Miras) and Cordisco (Durigutti).
Unveiling the potential of flor
Ageing wine under a veil of flor is commonplace in Jerez in Spain and the Jura in France, but it is found in very few places outside. In Argentina, however, there is a new wave of white wines aged under flor that are coming to the fore. The first winemaker to release a flor-aged wine was David Bonomi who by day is the Head Winemaker of Norton, but by night he makes his own label of boutique wines PerSe with agronomist Edy del Popolo. Their dry and complex Chardonnay, aged for seven years under a veil of flor, was only a limited edition but it was enough to create a ripple in Mendoza’s wine scene with many more producers experimenting with flor. Notable winemakers who produce white wines under flor today include Juan Pablo Michelini and Alejandro Vigil.
By Amanda Barnes