$15 WINES THAT TASTE LIKE $50: ARGENTINE CHARDONNAY
Argentina is known for its dynamic and diverse malbecs and aromatic torrontes. Both are emblematic varieties for the country. But the quality of chardonnay here is also on the rise. While some of the premium producers such as Catena Zapata and Chacra making iconic wines that cost as much as top wines from Burgundy, savvy buyers are tracking down chardonnays with great value.
We tasted 1,600 Argentine wines in our trip during February. You can read the full report here. The best modern chardonnay in Argentina offers a more refined style underscoring purity, elegance and texture, and cool-climate vineyards are attracting more attention. Our best value wine in the world in 2018 was the El Enemigo Chardonnay Mendoza 2016.
Uco Valley of Mendoza is the stronghold for fine Argentine chardonnay. The outcroppings of limestone provide perfect terroir for the grape, especially in the prestigious Gualtallary where some vineyards are situated above 5,000 feet. At their best, these wines are full of zest and freshness with lemony and chalky characters on a taut, linear palate. Lujan de Cuyo, on the other hand, is known more for its “classic” style, with riper, tropical expressions of fruit and a sleek mouth-feel on a fleshier and rounder palate. But with the trend for earlier harvests and the quest for mid-palate tension, the style in Lujan is also getting more diverse.
While Mendoza stands at the forefront of this chardonnay revolution, Patagonia and Salta also show a lot of promise. Patagonia is known for some of the finest pinot noirs from Argentina, but is now also delivering some of the purest expressions of chardonnay with subtlety and precision particularly from Chacra, which now makes amazing chardonnay with Meursault’s legendary Jean-Michel Roulot.
For Salta, while the refreshingly aromatic torrontes is still the most prominent white grape, many producers have also embarked on making high-altitude chardonnays with great balance between freshness and ripeness.
Argentina may not be the first country that comes to mind for quality chardonnay, but it has many wallet-friendly choices. And sometimes, you can discover real gems. With more promising terroirs being explored and new producers on board, the future for Argentine chardonnays that are both formidable and affordable is both exciting and far from concluded.
Check out our picks of these wonderful and extremely affordable Argentine chardonnays. Scroll down for the full tasting notes and scores (subscribers only).
Mascota Vineyards Chardonnay Mendoza Unánime 2017
Available at Wine.com
Viña Cobos Chardonnay Mendoza Felino 2017
Available at Wine.com
Catena Chardonnay Valle de Uco Tupungato 2019
Available at Wegmans.com
Zuccardi Chardonnay Tupungato Valle de Uco Q 2018
Domaine Bousquet Chardonnay Tupungato Valle de Uco Reserve 2019