Tim Atkin, Master of Wine and a great authority on Argentine Wines, a couple of years ago said that Argentina has great potential for Organic farming (mainly due to its hot, dry climate) but currently is not fulfilling that potential.
I totally agree with Mr Atkin MW! Most wine shops in Buenos Aires can offer you a small selection of organic wines, but you are very limited in your choices.
So why organic wines? Why does it matter? I’m not a hippy. I only wear sandals on the beach.
Farming in an environment that flourishes without the use of chemical is a great gift to any wine maker. Think about most of the food we consume today, we have no idea where it is from, or what chemicals it has seen. One of the wonderful things about wine is we know where its from – which region, which village, which exact vineyard. Surely we should know how pure our product is too?
So why so few organic producers?
The majority of wine produced in the country is consumed within Argentina. Meaning the homegrown market is very important for most wineries. Organic products, whether wine or watermelons, are not in demand like we see in other countries. Add that to the hefty fees wineries have to pay to the governing bodies to gain organic or biodynamic status, we have little to offer producers who are already struggling against rise costs and inflation.
That said there are some very good producers of wine from the small to the mighty, producing and championing organic practices.
To help you discover some more about organic Argentine wines, here are two very good wineries to look out for –
CHACRA – The King of the South
If anyone has set the bar for fine wine in Patagonia – it is Chacra. Owned by Italian wine royalty – Piero Incisa della Rochetta the owner of Tenuta San Guido which produces one of Italy’s most sought after wines – Sassicaia. The winery produces Pinot Noir and Merlot, two varieties that love the cooler temperatures found in the region of Rio Negro.
Della Rochetta refers to the vineyards as a ‘Japanese Garden’ due to the fact that everything is done by hand. They farm organically and use natural yeasts for fermentation. Their wines are not filtered, or fined allowing the grape and the region to do all the talking!
FAMILIA CECCHIN – Wines that don’t cost the earth
An Italian Family making wines in Mendoza for the last 100 years. Cecchin offer very affordable, well made organic wines coming from their vineyards in Maipú, Mendoza. They make one of the few ‘No-Added Sulfates’ (along side Chacra) wines in Argentina. Two particularly interesting wines which they produce are Graciana (Graciano) and Carignan. One a variety traditionally used in Rioja, Spain and the latter from the South of France. Again – human intervention is minimum, proving that healthy grapes make great wines.