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Argentina Chardonnay Patagonia

As the world's fifth largest producer of wine, after France, Italy, Spain and the United States, Argentina has plenty to offer the international wine market in regards to both quantity and quality. Despite this being the case for several decades now, it has only been since the end of the twentieth century that the Argentinian wine industry has really begun to up their game when it comes to the methods and techniques required to produce world class wines, which are both representative of their country and region of origin, and which stand alone as complex, interesting and delicious wines to drink. As Argentina became a serious contender in the international wine market, wineries previously concerned primarily with high volumes began to change their priorities, and formerly struggling small bodegas and independent wineries began to find success. Nowadays, well crafted wines from smaller vineyards in Argentina are being lauded as some of the finest in the world, and the country is starting to reap the benefits of its heritage, which include some very old vines, and up to four centuries of experience in wine production.

Of all the white wine grape varietals, surely the one which has spread the furthest and is most widely appreciated is the Chardonnay. This green skinned grape is now grown all over the Old and New Worlds, from New Zealand to the Americas, from England to Chile, and is one of the first varietals people think of when considering white wine grapes. Perhaps this is because of its huge popularity which reached a peak in the 1990s, thanks to new technologies combining with traditional methods to bring the very best features out of the Chardonnay grape, and allow its unique qualities to shine through. Most fine Chardonnay wines use a process known as malolactic fermentation, wherein the malic acids in the grape juice are converted to lactic acids, allowing a creamier, buttery nature to come forward in the wine. No grape varietal is better suited to this process than Chardonnay, which manages to balance these silky, creamy notes with fresh white fruit flavors beautifully.

Patagonia is not a region which immediately comes to mind when considering ideal locations for viticulture, which is something which makes Patagonia's annual output of fine wines all the more impressive. Situated in the very south of South America, and lying on both the Argentinian and Chilean sides of the Andean mountains, Patagonia has been settled in by many different nationalities over the centuries, making it a fascinating place for wine production and culture. Perhaps due to the eclectic mix of people who made Patagonia their home, the wines of the region are an interesting mix of many European style wines – far more 'old world' in style than other wines found elsewhere in Argentina or Chile. Whilst red wine varietals such as Pinot Noir and Malbec thrive quite happily in the Patagonian soils, it is the region's white wine grapes; Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurztraminer which are most widely admired for the wines they produce.