- Header photo source: lmdirio.com.ar
After Mendoza and San Juan, La Rioja is the third producer province of wine in Argentina. Most of its cultivated area is located in the Valles de Famatina, a productive oasis with a warm climate and low rainfall that runs between the Sierras de Velasco and Sierra de Famatina, to the west of the province.
But other Riojan valleys –such as Aminga, Angulos or Chañarmuyo– also contribute their identities to the growing diversity exhibited by wine from this area, with a long history associated with viticulture.
Medium structure and moderate-low acidity used to be common in these wines, although the search for an earlier harvest has been crucial to give these wines freshness.
In fact, Mendoza wineries recently began exploring the region to stock up on some premium grapes. With a good concentration of reds, the Andean valleys offer freshness and a differentiated harvest in the Mendoza season. This, added to a spectacular landscape, such as the Sierra de Famatina -with its 6070 meters of eternal snow or the sandstone gorges of the Talampaya National Park, among others- give La Rioja a unique wine-producing landscape.
As in almost all of the Cordillera, altitude is the determining factor when making wines. More in La Rioja, whose latitude is relatively low (29° 14′ for Chilecito). An example of the variety of terroirs is provided by the heights at which the vineyards are planted, which range from 900 meters above sea level in the Chilecito Valley, in Famatina, to 1,400 meters in the Aminga Valley or the 1,850 meters in Angulos, shortly before 1,650 in the Valley of Chañarmuyo.
Exploring this diversity has been a key element for the development of wines with different identities.
As we mentioned at the beginning, Torrontés Riojano is the star variety of this province. To the orange blossom and roses are added traces of fruit that sting between tropical and citrus.
Riojan reds are dominated by Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, closely followed by Bonarda and Syrah. It is also possible to find wines from other red varieties not so associated in the Riojan imaginary, such as Tannat or Cabernet Franc, vinified as varietals or as components of blended wines. And the same can be said of the white varieties.
Source: Wines of Argentina