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Wines from Argentina's Dust Bowl

Acordeón Vineyards Mendoza, Argentina (Freixenet Wines USA)
Acordeón Vineyards Mendoza, Argentina (Freixenet Wines USA)

You wouldn’t consider a “Dust Bowl” to be a place where some of the world’s richest and most talked about wines would come from. But that’s exactly what the Mendoza Region of Argentina is like. The entire region is in the rain-shadow of the Andes mountain range; however, there is a patch of green and fertile land among the arid, dessert-like region.  

Centuries ago, prior to the arrival of Spanish Conquistadores, the indigenous Huarpes of the region had developed a system of irrigation channels to bring water from the Mendoza River to the arid plains. This same system remains in place today – with added modernizations, of course – and allows grape growers to have complete control over watering.

With hot days, cool nights and grape growers controlling the water, we have the perfect combination for growing the now renowned Malbec grape as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. And we can find these varietals to pair with our favorite foods for under $10 a bottle.

From Acordeón we have the 2011 Malbec, 2012 Chardonnay and 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon; we also have Torrontes but that’s a whole other story from a whole other valley.

In the Chardonnay, we have a wine that is crisp with flavors of fresh green apples and grapefruit with a soft lemony finish. It is vibrant and lively. The grapes were treated like royalty: hand-harvested, stainless steel fermentation and no secondary fermentation. The result is a Chardonnay that can be both sipped and paired with food. Try with smoked ham and brie panini or roasted chicken with orange teriyaki glaze.

The Cabernet Sauvignon is precocious for its limited age. Flavors of blackberry and black currant with hints of pepper make it a perfect pairing for Hungarian goulash, beef barley stew or even a spicy rack of ribs.

The Acordeón 2011 Malbec is my favorite – I happen to be partial to the Malbec grape in general. Originally from the Cahors region of southwest France, this grape has found its home in Mendoza. Blackberry, boysenberry and black currant envelope the mouth along with hints of cocoa and tobacco. To truly enjoy this wine, one must drink it as the Argentines would with a good cut of well-marbled steak, such as rib-eye or New York strip. If you want to experience it in more of the French manner, pair it with lamb chops. As you can tell, the wine needs big food to stand up to its big flavors.

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