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Argentina to try Albariño in coastal vineyard

Trapiche is to try emulating the Galician white wine style by planting Albariño on Argentina’s south Atlantic coast.

Mar y Pampa label
Trapiche released its first wines from Chapadmalal last year under the Mar y Pampa brand, meaning “sea and grass”

The planned vineyard is currently planted to Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon in an area south of Buenos Aires called Chapadmalal, but the region is too cool and wet for these late-ripening red grapes which are being ripped out and replaced by Albariño, according to Marcelo Belmonte, Trapiche’s head of viticulture.

“We are going to plant two hectares of Albariño because we think it would do very well in Chapadmalal,” said Belmonte, during a discussion with the drinks business last month.

Explaining his belief in the suitability of this area for Albariño, which traditionally performs best on the verdant Spanish and Portuguese coastal areas of Rias Baixas and Vinho Verde, Belmonte said that Trapiche’s Chapadmalal vineyards are just 7km from the ocean with a wet and cool climate.

Indeed, he said there was an average of 500mm of rain during the growing season and a heat summation of 1500 (degree days), cooler than Argentina’s most famous cool climate viticultural area – the Andean Uco Valley, which totals around 1800.

The proximity of Chapadmalal to the Atlantic also ensures there is almost constant wind, cooling the grape clusters and slowing sugar accumulation in the berries, as well as reducing disease incidence in the relatively wet region – which allows for vine growing without irrigation.

Not only was Trapiche the first Argentine company to plant vines in the area, but it is also the first Argentine coastal viticultural project according to Belmonte.

Having planted vines in Chapadmalal six years ago, Trapiche released its first wines from the region last year under the Mar y Pampa brand (meaning “sea and grass”), comprising a Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.

As well as these grapes, Trapiche has also planted Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier (the latter two varieties for sparkling wine), while it is also now trying Chenin Blanc in the coastal site, which Belmonte said produced wines with full ripeness at comparatively low sugar levels ­– fully ripe berries can be harvested with 10-12% potential alcohol.

Stressing the marked difference between the conditions in this cool coastal region and Argentina’s vinous heartland of Mendoza, Belmonte commented, “Argentina is typically known for its rich reds from the foothills of the Andes, but Chapadmalal is just 10 metres above sea level.”

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