Why Argentina Is the Perfect Winter Escape for Wine Lovers

As the days get shorter and darker and the temperatures begin to drop, you may find yourself looking longingly toward the Southern Hemisphere. South America’s climate mirrors that of North America, making October to April an ideal time to catch the sun’s rays. Argentina in particular earns the award for most hospitable climate, with an average temperature of 70.5 degrees Fahrenheit during these months and less than eight inches of rainfall per year. But while the weather, picturesque landscapes, stunning vistas, rich culture, luxury accommodations, and regional cuisine may draw tourists — superior wines will keep them coming back.

Travel to Argentina For the Wine and So Much More

In the modern metropolis of Buenos Aires, travelers can take in Teatro Colón, an impressive seven-story theater that can hold an audience of 3,000, and enjoy an array of creative boutiques and gourmet eats. Or visit San Ignacio Miní, the stunning mission ruins that date back to 1696, and catch the haunting sound-and-light show that runs each night.

For nature explorers, Argentina is the land of contrasting wonders. It is home to the Iguazú jungle, which boasts the largest waterfall system in the world, the stunning Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the most popular tourist attractions in southern Patagonia, and the mountainous Bariloche that is known as the “Switzerland of the South.” Visitors can walk with the gentoo penguins on Martillo Island, whale watching in Puerto Pirámides, and hike Mount Fitz Roy, one of the most popular treks in the world.

In fact, in Argentina, everything is in relation to the mountains. Over 50 million years ago, the Andes formed from a series of mountain chains and created high-altitude plateaus with distinctive microclimates and a wealth of biodiversity. The Mendoza Province, which extends eastward from the towering peaks of the Andes, may be considered a cold-climate desert (with warm, dry summers), but the unique conditions and varied soil have proven fruitful for winemakers who cultivate terroir-driven wines that express their origins.

Mendoza & the Uco Valley: A Wine Lover’s Playground

Today, Mendoza is the premier wine-growing region in Argentina and is home to 75 percent of the country’s vineyards. Here, Malbec reigns. It is one of the largest producers of Malbec in the world, but its rise to fame is relatively new. The grape was first imported to the region from France in the mid-19th century, yet only in the past 40 years has Malbec ascended in the ranks of wine aficionados, earning a place in the canon of premium-end, luxury wines.

And if Malbec is king, then Chardonnay is queen of the white grapes. Not only is it the best-selling white wine around the world, but Chardonnay is also Argentina’s most loved white, the best coming from Mendoza’s higher-altitude vineyards.

The stunning Uco Valley, a cooler sub-region of Mendoza, is the newest wine territory that’s quickly making a name for itself around the world. A deeply fertile place, the Uco Valley’s increased altitude consistently produces wines that are textured and age-worthy. Increased UV rays during the daytime balanced out by rejuvenating cool nights, give way to thick-skinned grapes that yield a more complex color and taste. And when it comes to wine tourism, Uco Valley is a growing, semi-secret gem. With unparalleled, breathtaking views of the snow-capped Andes and a handful of extraordinary restaurants and impressively designed hotels that emerge from the barren desert, Uco Valley forms the foundation for an oenophile’s quintessential winter holiday.

The Wines of Argentina to Watch Out For

At the center of the Uco Valley boom is third-generation winemaker Sebastián Zuccardi. The oenologist has dedicated himself to exploring the local terroir and cultivating wines that express the distinct character of place. His grandfather, Alberto Zuccardi, founded the company in 1963, but it was Sebastián’s father, José, who fostered a plan to produce accessible and high-end wine for export. Sebastián has taken that pursuit a step further, endeavoring to cultivate wine that wholly embodies the terroir of each individual parcel. So, if the oenophile in your life can’t manage a vacation to Uco Valley, you can bring the Uco Valley home to them, giving the gift of superior Zuccardi mountain Malbec or Chardonnay with a surprisingly affordable price point that will magically transport them to the wines’ celebrated place of origin.

Zuccardi Fósil San Pablo Chardonnay (MSRP: $65)

This selection of wines made of 100 percent Chardonnay communicates the spirit of the land, climate, altitude, and human labor that cultivate it. At more than 4,500 feet above sea level, San Pablo is one of the highest and coldest parts of the Uco Valley. Its extreme climate and unique geological history produce a dry, full-bodied Chardonnay with bright acidity. Seventy percent of the wine is aged in concrete, while the remaining 30 percent is aged in French oak barrels. It has great minerality and hints of citrus and tree fruits. In short, Fósil San Pablo expresses the flavor profile of Estancia. Self-assured and rooted in heritage, this is the perfect wine for the person in your life who knows exactly where they’re from and where they are going.

Zuccardi Paraje Altamira Concreto Malbec (MSRP: $40)

Concreto is a testament to Sebastian Zuccardi’s pursuit of cultivating a wine that purely expresses its place of origin. The journey begins in Paraje Altamira, in the heart of the alluvial fan of the Tunuyán River on the stoniest and most calcareous parcels of the vineyard. The wine’s relationship to place continues when the whole of the grape is solely vinified in an epoxy-free concrete vessel made from the land. The wine is of great structure and acidity and conveys notes of red fruit and floral character. Untouched by non-native tastes or aromas, the 100 percent Malbec embodies a pure fruit expression and transmits the energy of Paraje Altamira. This is an ideal wine to celebrate the grit and integrity of a lifelong friend.

The only way to truly bring the taste of Argentina home is to bottle its towering mountains, rocky soil, Southern Hemisphere sunshine, and the spirit of the people who live there — which is exactly what Sebastián Zuccardi does for the world, one wine at a time.

This article is sponsored by Zuccardi Wines