Terroir in Focus

Argentine Wine’s identity

When the grapes from a vine or a region are grown separately, the resulting wine has various attributes, aromas and tastes that form the identity of such region of origin.

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Martin Kaiser

by Martin Kaiser

Agricultural producer of Doña Paula Argentina

When the grapes from a vine or a region are grown separately, the resulting wine has various attributes, aromas and tastes that form the identity of such region of origin. To generalize we can certainly state that argentine wines have their own identity and, in the following lines, we will show and explain its origin.

In the lasts years in Doña Paula, we have developed investigation studies using Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes with the purpose of characterizing the wines of our country. Therefore, it was necessary to take grapes from different regions and use the standard protocol for their elaboration. Then the wines produced in that way were evaluated by tasting trained panels.

According to our investigations the most determining factor of the wine is the mean temperature during the vegetative cycle. Other factors studied like altitude, minimum and maximum temperatures of the month prior to the harvest do not get to explain in themselves the differences found in the aromatic profile of the wines. For one same region the soils also affect the aromas of the wine, but in a lower degree. It has to be clarified that both the vineyard management and the election of the harvest point generate differences in the resulting wine, so we have had to standardize those factors in our tests.

Vegetative Cycle Temperature

Technicians use a variable to describe the temperatures of a region called Winkler index which is calculated by the sum of the mean temperature of each day and subtracting 10°C (S=[T° ½ day-10]) for the vegetative cycle (considering the period from the first day of the month of October to April 30th). Another way of explaining the weather of a region is the average temperature during the vegetative cycle. This variable is widely used for its simplicity and because it explains a great part of the attributes of a wine. The following chart shows the mean temperatures for the regions corresponding to Winkler 5 categories (I=cold, II=intermediate, III: intermediate-warm, IV: warm and V: hot):

grafico_en_blanco

Graphic 1: Comparison of average temperatures during the season in different regions of the world. The five categories from Winkler’s scale can be appreciated by the background colors.

Most of the vineyards planted in our country are located between the warm and hot categories (Winkler IV and V). In warm weather conditions the temperatures never become a limiting factor for the grapes to reach a good level of maturity. This means that our wines are characterized for presenting a great fruity expression, being generally soft in mouth, with sweet tannins and very low average acidity levels. It is also significant the low presence of herbaceous aromas like pyrazine (peas, asparagus) while aromas of eucalyptus are usually found in the Cabernet Sauvignon and in the Malbec some soft minty ones. As an example graphic 2 shows the aromatic profile of three Malbec from different regions of the country, which had been micro vinified with a standard protocol and a similar level of maturity. It can be certainly appreciated that the higher points were obtained by the floral and fruity aromas in comparison to spiced and herbaceous.

grafico_2_blanco

Graphic 2: Aromatic profile of Malbec wines of quality areas belonging to San Patricio del Chañar (Neuquén), Santa María (Catamarca) and Ugarteche, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza.

Conclusions:

Argentina presents a wide variety of conditions under which the vine is cultivated, most of them located in warm and hot areas that also have a greater solar radiation, typical of continental desert-like weather. As a result, our wines have plenty of fruity aromas, a few herbaceous or medicinal aromas, while in mouth their tannins are soft and there is a medium acidity. In the lasts years, the horizon has extended in the search of cooler regions (Winkler I, II y III) either because they are located at a higher altitude or latitude or due to their closeness to the sea. However, this last share a great part of the basic attributes of the first, which is why we can still speak about wines with an “Argentine Identity”.

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