Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
From the valleys of California and Chile to the rolling hillsides of the Bordeaux region of France, the one red wine grape varietal you will find in abundance is the Cabernet Sauvignon. This darkly colored grape has been cultivated since the mid 18th century, when it was borne from a cross of fine Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc varietals. Since then, it has spread around the world and has been received with pleasure by wineries looking for a varietal which delivers excellence of flavor and aroma, whilst being hardy enough to resist frost and rot and other such difficulties. Indeed, Cabernet Sauvignon is probably the most recognizable red wine grape varietal on earth, and is easily distinguished by its high tannin level and acidic nature, which is often so beautifully mellowed by being blended with Merlot and other such grapes.
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.