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With extremely favorable wine growing conditions, Argentina has a reputation for giving birth to new wine regions frequently.
One of the emerging wine regions is in Patagonia, more precisely in the province of Chubut whose characteristics are conducive to producing wines with a unique style. It has an area of 66 hectares of grapevines which when compared to the Country’s total seems really small, however, we need to know that there were no grapevines at all by the year 2000, so the growth has been exponential.
Leandro Pereyra, a winemaker of the zone, says that it is necessary to wait for four more years to let the crops be strong enough. “Viticulture in this zone is a new activity and the whole process started only five years ago”.
Even though the vineyards in this region are in their early stages, one of the vineyards Otronia, has already bagged a record: the southernmost vineyard in the world. It is a brand new project from Bulgeroni’s Group and involves a huge investment. Along with Casa Yague and Viñas de Nant y Fall, Otronia is a foraging winery of the region.
There are nine grape varieties registered for winemaking in the province. Half of the surface is Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, followed by Merlot.
One of the grape varieties that is effectively adapting is Gewurztraminer, expressing a great acidity thanks to the low temperatures and in spite of its late ripening, the results are great quality wines that carry the sense of place.
The region is very diverse in landscape and climate with temperatures from 8°C in winter to 36°C during summer. This temperature variation highlights aromas, color, and structures of wines.
According to researchers and to the tests that were performed by the winemaker Camilo de Bernardi, it is better to plant on the northern hillside since they allow a moderate exposure to the sun and good drainage of frosts. As you can imagine, it is complex and delicate to produce in such an extreme zone.
Regarding the composition of the soils, they are of volcanic origin and have a layer of earth and clay on bottom, from 20 to 80 centimeters.
In the Andes zone, soils are acid with high levels of organic materials that provide variable textures. Instead, in the valleys at the Patagonic Meseta, the soils are alkaline with low organic material.
Experience and knowledge of the producers are backed up by the technical support of the INTA (National Agricultural Technology Institute, by its initials in Spanish). They are working together and exchanging information with winemakers from New Zealand.
Currently, in Chubut there are six regions that are growing vines, they go from the Andes to the Estepa until the coastline.
Comarca Paralelo 42°, Trevelin Valley, Meseta Central, Sarmiento Valley, Low Valley of Chubut River and Los Altares Valley form the circuit with multiple landscapes and diverse features.
Even though these regions have a long way to go, the potential of delivering extraordinary wines, truly different from everything else in Argentina, keeps the expectations really high.
Journalist. WSET® L2 Wines & Spirits. Passionate about communicating the wonderful world of wine. Member of ‘Argentina Wine Bloggers’. Critic at ‘Vino Sub30 2015 edition’. Collaborator in Argentine Association of Sommeliers.