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Majestic Guides: the best Mendoza wines and wineries to drink at home


Category: Majestic Guides

An introduction to the best Mendoza wines and wineries to drink at home


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In Short:
Mendoza’s high-altitude vineyards have put Argentina on the map for great wines. The Malbec and Chardonnay grapes thrive here, and pioneering winemakers have had success producing brilliant wines at dizzying heights.

What are the main grape varieties and wine styles of Mendoza?

Mendoza is Argentina’s biggest and most well-known wine region. Situated in the eastern foothills and plains of the Andes mountains, the vineyards in Mendoza are planted at some of the highest altitudes in the world. With a lofty average altitude of 900 metres, Mendoza wineries, or ‘Bodegas’, have been taking advantage of the region's dry and sunny climate to produce some outstanding wines.

 


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Mendoza is famous for its rich, full-bodied reds made from the Malbec grape. Widely known for its inky colour and affinity for red meats, Malbec is the most important grape for the Mendoza region. But other grapes, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Chardonnay, aren't far behind, and wines of every style are produced in Mendoza. 


The secret to Mendoza’s success is its high altitude. Mendoza's warm, sunny days and cooler nighttime temperatures allow the grapes to ripen fully but rest at night, preserving acidity to retain freshness.

 

Malbec, Mendoza’s flagship grape, was first brought to Argentina from France. It has very thick skin and needs plenty of sunlight to ripen. With aromas and flavours of blackberry, plum and black cherry,  Malbec grown in Mendoza typically produces softer, less tannic wines than in southwest France. 

Chardonnay is often seen as a benchmark of quality. In a relatively ‘new’ wine region, Mendoza wineries have had great success producing some world-class Chardonnay wines. The high sunlight allows plenty of ripe citrus and stone-fruit flavours to develop, and the cooler nights help it retain acidity, keeping it deliciously fresh.


Chardonnay and Malbec on the higher end of the price spectrum are often barrel-aged. This brings out rich chocolate flavours in Malbec and toasty, nutty and vanilla flavours in Chardonnay. As well as including altitude as a form of bragging rights, ageing terms are often featured on Mendoza wine labels. 'Reserva' on a label denotes one year of oak ageing for red wines and 6 months for whites before they’re released. 'Gran Reserva' goes a step further, requiring two years of oak ageing for reds and one year for whites.







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Bodega Catena Zapata

Nicola Catena planted his first Malbec vines in Mendoza in 1902. Seeking cooler sites, he had a vision that high-altitude vineyards in Mendoza would be the key to great wines. His grandson Nicolás Catena's success with Malbec in Mendoza has brought Argentina fame across the world. As managing director of Bodega Catena Zapata, Laura Catena now continues the family’s legacy. She splits her time between Mendoza and California, where she works as a physician. It’s no wonder she’s considered one of the most influential women in wine.


Try Laura's work here 

Catena Malbec, Mendoza



Zuccardi


Zuccardi’s new award-winning Mendoza winery is a symbol of the progress made since their humble beginnings in 1963. Now, third-generation winemaker Sebastián Zuccardi has a designated research and development team to get the most out of the land. They’ve won a number of awards, including 2021 winner of World’s Best Vineyards – for the third year in a row.


Taste the benefits of a fantastic vineyard here

Zuccardi 'Q' Malbec, Mendoza


BenMarco


BenMarco is made under the watchful eye of Susana Balbo. Susana was the first woman in Argentina to graduate with a degree in winemaking and was President of Wines of Argentina no less than three times. Focused on minimal intervention to get the purest expression of Mendoza’s complex soils, they use natural yeasts for fermentation where possible and avoid using new oak barrels to let the wine speak for itself. 


Try BenMarco wines here

BenMarco Plata Chardonnay, Uco Valley






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