“Wine is the only artwork you can drink” – Luis Fernando Olaverri.

It’s weird to think that, barely a dozen years ago, Argentina was the land of bargain wines, the cheap and cheerful styles that would always please the purse but rarely tease the palate. But boy, have they gone a long way.

I should add a caveat: boy, have their reds gone a long way because to be honest, while there are the odd one or two interesting whites, I’d still rather have a rash in a delicate area. Most of the whites have a thin and sometimes tired taste to them but don’t worry, my hunt continues at a pace.

Many of their red wines, however, are in a different league altogether, particularly the rich Malbecs and Bonarda styles and more recently their Cabernet Sauvignons are becoming a thing to behold.

Chile still has the edge on their neighbours when it comes to Merlot but if you are prepared to trade up on the Argentinian shelf, their wines are rapidly becoming the best-value fine wines in the world.

The best of the bunch come from Medoza and La Rioja with San Juan coming up just behind, but while the quality is increasing exponentially all over the country, the top-quality wines are produced in the high-altitude vineyards of Mendoza with some of them easily comparable to many of Bordeaux second-growth wines.

The nice thing is that it’s one of their own home-grown winemakers, Nicolas Catena Zapata, who has done more to elevate the quality and standing than any of the myriad of flying winemakers who criss-cross the globe these days in search of some sort of X Factor stardom.

There’s just one thing to remember with the big Argentinian reds, though – bring steak, lots of steak, because these big juicy bruisers are anything but appetisers!


  • Catena Alta Cabernet: Careful fruit selection, exceptional wine making skills and 18 months in french oak make for an incredible wine. Rich cassis fruit with cocoa, cedar wood and hints of tobacco. Quite literally a stunner. Richardson’s of Whitehaven, £27.95.
  • The Party Malbec: Opulent is definitely the right term for this wine with a floral, enticing nose and masses of ripe raspberry and plum fruits on the palate. Marks & Spencer, £14.