Varietal: Pinot Noir
Whilst the Pinot Noir grape varietal has its origins in France, and is most closely associated with fine Burgundy wines, it is now grown in almost every wine producing country in the world. There are many reasons for this â€“ the densely packed, deep black bunches of fruits are responsible for making a wide variety of excellent wines, generally agreed to be amongst the most drinkable and accessible one can find. With flavors ranging from currants and red and black berries, to more earthy, spicy notes, Pinot Noir is a versatile varietal which is revered for its relatively light body and beautifully vivid red color However, the grapes themselves are notoriously susceptible to various diseases, and struggle in fluctuating climates. This has not stopped wineries planting and cultivating these vines, though, as Pinot Noir, when grown carefully and treated properly, is a grape with a wide and increasing fan-base, and more often than not produces wonderful wines.
When it comes to Patagonia, one would be forgiven for expressing surprise at the region's ever growing and successful wine industry. Cold, dry and comparatively flat, this low altitude region of South America has been inhabited for a couple of centuries by an eclectic mix of European settlers, who, over time, began planting vineyards of grapes imported from their native lands. Despite the conditions being less than favorable for viticulture, vintners are helped by some unusual weather phenomenons, and generations of expertise and perseverance. Today, the wine industry of Patagonia is doing well, with several Old World grape varietals thriving there. Whilst the red wines of the region - made commonly with Pinot Noir and Malbec grapes - are highly regarded, it is the white wines which impress the most on the world stage, and it is likely Patagonia will continue to grow as an important New World wine region over the next few decades.
It is said that the first Argentinian vines were planted in the Mendoza more than four hundred years ago by European settlers, and despite these early wines being used primarily for religious purposes, the fervor for wine making never left the area. Today, Argentina is keen to demonstrate its technological prowess when it comes to vineyard cultivation, by combining traditional methods of irrigation left over from the Huarpes Indians with modern techniques in order to make the dry, arid desert an ideal environment for growing grapes. Indeed, these ancient irrigation channels, dug hundreds of years ago and still in use today, bring mineral-rich melt water from the Andes via the Mendoza river, something which gives the grapes grown in this region some of their character. The primary grape of this and other regions of Argentina is the Malbec, which is highly susceptible to rot in its native France, but which thrives in the dry and hot climate of South America, producing rich and plummy wines which are highly drinkable especially when young.