Vine varieties: White

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Although steadily losing ground, pedro giménez (distinct from Spain’s pedro ximénez) is still Argentina’s most-planted light-skinned grape variety, with 11,773 ha/29,091 acres grown in 2013, particularly in Mendoza and the province of San Juan, where it is used mostly in basic blends. It is also used for making grape concentrate, which Argentina exports in vast quantities, particularly to japan. The second most-planted light-skinned variety in 2013 was torrontés Riojano with almost 7,885 ha/19,500 acres, followed by Chardonnay with 6,394 ha/15,799 acres. Other white wine grapes, in order of importance, are Moscatel de Alejandría, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Torrontés Sanjuanino, Ugni Blanc, Viognier, Sémillon, Sauvignonasse, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and others. The country’s most distinctive white wine grape is Torrontés Riojano in its various forms, which can produce a (relatively) light wine with a strong, floral, muscat aroma. Use of the right strains of yeast—a particularly effective local strain has been identified in La Rioja and is now being widely commercialized for this variety—and careful temperature control during fermentation can result in a Torrontés of universal appeal. Originally it was planted almost exclusively in the northern province of Salta, particularly in the Calchaquies Valley and around Cafayate, but it can now be found in the province of Mendoza, where it is often used for blending, and increasingly in the Uco Valley, where it is producing steely, more structured, linear wines. Chardonnay is the wine that everyone wants to produce and the Argentines are no exception, particularly with an eye to the US and UK markets. Chardonnay has proved to be particularly well suited to parts of Argentina. Its own so-called Mendoza clone (see millerandage) was developed at davis in California and is widely planted in Australia and elsewhere.