I feel I am never going to understand Argentina’s approach to making wine. White wines consistently romp in at 14% abv plus, and red wines have such massive extraction and hideous use of oak that you can stand a spoon up in them.
I know that as a nation their cuisine is red meat based, and for the domestic market the wines will make more sense. But basing their production on matching with red meat gives a very narrow bandwidth of diversity and therefore interest to an export market that has access to the full spectrum the world can offer.
On the other side of the Andes, Chile is beginning to realise what an asset diversity is. No longer are all their eggs in the basket of Casablanca Sauvignons or Merlots. What I witnessed on a recent visit to Chile was the seeds of something very exciting. The newer areas of Leyda, Limari, Elqui and Bio-Bio are producing wines of elegance, that are reflective of a climate and terroir, with a wider range of grape varieties.
Suddenly Chile is giving me options as a sommelier. They are making wine that I can use to match with white fish, shellfish and intricately spiced food, as well as powerful reds and whites to match more hearty fare. They are distinctively Chilean but, more than that, you have a good chance of naming the appellation in a blind tasting.
At the moment I will list a Malbec or two from Argentina and perhaps a couple of Chardonnays because they fulfil my liking to be as representative of the world of wine on my winelists as possible. It would be churlish of me to say there are no good wines from Argentina, but as far as matching food? Beyond the world of the chargrilled or stewed it would be hard to justify listing any more.