When it comes to world-renowned wine regions, Argentina might not be the first country that comes to mind. However, in recent decades Argentina has emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the global wine industry. With its breathtaking vineyard landscapes, commitment to quality winemaking, and unique grape varieties, Argentina has captivated wine enthusiasts around the world.
In this blog, we embark on a journey to explore the rise and splendour of Argentina’s wine industry, uncovering its history, signature grape varieties, key regions, and noteworthy achievements.
A Historical Glimpse: Argentina’s winemaking tradition dates back to the early Spanish colonisation in the 16th century. However, it was in the mid 19th century that the modern wine industry began to take shape. Influenced by European immigrants, particularly from Italy and Spain, Argentina embraced their winemaking techniques, vineyard management practices, and grape varieties. Over time, the industry experienced significant growth, transforming Argentina into one of the world’s largest wine producers.
Signature Grape Varieties: Malbec stands as the undisputed king of Argentina’s wine production. Originally from France, Malbec found its ideal terroir in high-altitude vineyards of Mendoza, Argentina’s most prominent wine region. Argentine Malbec is known for its intense purple colour, rich flavours of blackberries, plums and dark chocolate, and velvety tannins. Other red grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Bonarda also thrive in Argentina’s diverse terroir, offering complex and captivating wines.
Key Wine Regions: Mendoza, nestled in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, steals the spotlight as Argentina’s premier wine region. With its high altitude, arid climate, and alluvial soils, Mendoza provides the perfect conditions for grape cultivation. Within Mendoza, sub-regions like Luján de Cuvo and Valle de Uco produce some of the finest wines in Argentina. Luján De Cuvo is renowned for its robust Malbecs, while Valle de Uco showases elegant, cool-climate wines. Salta is another notable wine region in Argentina known for its high-altitude vineyards and its delicate, aromatic white wine made from Torrontés.
Winemaking Techniques and Terroir: Argentina’s winemakers have embraced modern winemaking techniques while preserving traditional craftsmanship. They utilise start-of-the-art technology to ensure the highest quality wines, while also respecting the unique characteristics of their terroir. The combination of high-altitude vineyards, ample sunshine, low rainfall, and diverse soils allows winemakers to produce wines with excellent balance, vibrant acidity, and expressive fruit flavours.
Achievements and Global Recognition: In recent years, Argentina’s wines have garnered significant acclaim and recognition on the international stage. Argentine wineries have received prestigious awards and high scores from renowned wine critics, further solidifying the country’s position in the global wine industry. Additionally, the wine tourism industry in Argentina has experienced remarkable growth, with visitors flocking to the breathtaking vineyard landscapes, enjoying cellar tours, and indulging in wine tastings.
The wine industry in Argentina has evolved into a captivating tale of passion, innovation, and dedication to quality. From its humble beginnings to its current global recognition, Argentina’s winemakers have transformed the country into a true wine destination. Whether it’s the seductive allure of Malbec or the elegant expressions of other grape varieties, Argentina’s wines offer a unique sensory experience that reflects the country’s rich heritage and remarkable terroir. So, the next time you sip a glass of Argentine wine, raise a toast to the land of gauchos and tango, where the vines thrive and flavours flourish.
We will be hosting an Argentinian style lunch at the Wine House on the 21st October 2023! Join us by booking your seat at the table where we will be showcasing Argentinian wines alongside their Hunter Valley equivalents while we dream of travels to this magical country.
Now is a great time to begin organising and securing your preferred date for your Christmas Party! To help ignite your holiday cheer, we have curated 5 exceptional Christmas party ideas that will make your end of year celebration memorable. We partner with some of the best businesses in the Hunter Valley and can help with any transport and accommodation needs.
Contact our events team to get the ball rolling on your best Christmas Party ever!
1. Long Lunch on our Terrace
2. Themed Cocktail Party
Our Cocktail Party package is great way for you and your team to mix and mingle. Enjoy a night of roaming canapes, flowing wine, and laidback conversations. You can also add a DJ or some live music to bring the party alive. Why not make it themed to help break the ice and bring colleagues closer as friends. Some of our popular Christmas themes are Masquerade or White Christmas.
3. Team Building Wine Blending Class with a Winemaker
This is a fun and casual way to provide an interactive Christmas Party idea. Be a winemaker for the day and try your hand at making your very own red wine blend. Our winemaker will guide your team through the process and once you have made your award-winning blend you can label up a sample bottle to take home with you!
4. Decadent Dinner with Live Music or a DJ
This is the ultimate package for those who like to party. Start your night with a welcoming glass of sparkling, then indulge in a festive 3-course dinner and beverage package. Then you can dance the night away with a live DJ or band. This will be a night to remember with five hours of fun, food and dancing.
5.Ultimate Hunter Valley Christmas
For the ultimate Hunter Valley Christmas Party, we can help arrange for Hot Air Balloon rides, Helicopter flights as well as VIP Tours. We can work with you to design your dream team getaway.
Firstly, let’s clear one thing up: Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are made from the same grape variety.
So why the different names? The French call it Pinot Gris (gris is French for grey) and the Italians call it Pinot Grigio (you guessed it, Italian for grey). In Australia there was a push to simply call it Pinot G but not surprisingly, it didn’t really catch on (G having all sorts of connotations which we don’t need to explore here). But Pinot G is a less confusing term when talking about the variety itself so we’ll use it here, for educational purposes only.
Pinot G is a mutation of the red grape variety Pinot Noir and is quite a dark skinned grape. When fully ripe the bunches could even be mistaken for a red grape and the resulting juice has a greyish colour, hence the name. Pinot G originated in France's Burgundy region then travelled abroad to many countries, most notably Italy where they really put their stamp on it. Not only did they change the name and the style of the wine but they embraced it as their main white grape variety. To give you some idea of Italy’s dominance with this grape, Italy has 24,500 hectares under vine compared with France’s 2,800 hectares (Australia has 3,700 hectares). *
However, the difference between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio isn’t just how you say grey, they are stylistically quite different and can be traced to their traditional regions. Although originating in Burgundy, it is the Alsace region of France that is famous for their finely tuned and delicately aromatic Pinot Gris wines. Outside of France, you will generally see other cooler regions such as New Zealand, Tasmania and southern Victoria make theirs in a Gris style as a nod to the Alsace wines. Generally speaking, Pinot Gris wines are richer, fuller-bodied wines and can have noticeable sweetness. The wines are aromatic, fruity with a hint of spice and can have a slightly pinkish hue. They are usually in a tall, thin ‘hock’ bottle, this bottle is traditionally used for other aromatic whites such as Riesling and Gewurztraminer.
On the other hand, Pinot Grigio is a lighter-bodied wine with a crisp, refreshing taste. It is made in a dry style, with little to no residual sugar. Pinot Grigio is typically less aromatic than Pinot Gris and can be minerally, flinty and have a much lighter texture. They are usually packaged in a clear or green ‘claret’ bottle and they are great with seafood or anything oily that calls for a wine with crisp acidity to cut through the richness.
When it comes to Australian Pinot G there are no hard and fast rules as to what is labelled Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio, and with every different region and every different year there can be variations in the style. So just use the label as a general guide; if you prefer an aromatic, delicate wine with perhaps a touch of sweetness, go for a Pinot Gris but if you prefer a crunchy crisp dry white – grab a Grigio!
Wine glasses come in so many different shapes and sizes, each one claiming to enhance the unique characteristics of a specific type of wine. But do they really make a difference? Let’s have a look at how the shape and size of the glass can affect the way a wine smells, tastes and feels in your mouth.
Let’s start with a red wine glass. Have you ever ordered a red wine in a restaurant only to have the waiter whisk away the wine glasses that were sitting ready on your table? This can be a little disconcerting until they return to the table armed with larger, altogether more beautiful wine glasses to serve your wine in. The reason a red wine glass typically has a larger bowl than a white wine glass is because red wine is served at a higher temperature than white wine and the larger bowl allows more room for the wine to breathe and release its complex aromas. Additionally, the bowl of a red wine glass is often tapered at the top, which concentrates the aromas of the wine, making it easier to detect the different scents of the wine (and less easy to cover yourself in red wine as you expertly swirl your glass).
White wine glasses on the other hand, tend to have a smaller bowl and a narrower opening than red wine glasses. This is because white wine is typically served chilled and the smaller bowl keeps the wine cool for a longer period of time. Additionally, the narrow opening of the glass helps to preserve the delicate aromas of the wine, which can be easily lost if the wine is exposed to too much air.
Champagne glasses, also known as flutes, have a tall, slender bowl and a narrow opening, which helps to preserve the bubbles of the wine. The narrow opening helps to maintain the effervescence of the wine, and the tall bowl allows the bubbles to rise to the surface, creating a sparkling sensation on the tongue.
So whilst it may seem to be just another way to confound the average wine drinker, using different shaped glasses for each type of wine can really bring out the best in a wine. If nothing else, it’s a fun thing to try the same wine in a range of different wine glasses. You may be surprised, or not! In which case you can safely stick to your vegemite jars!
Vintage 2023 is getting underway around the Hunter Valley. Most wineries have started to bring in their Chardonnay and Verdelho crops with Semillon and the alternative varieties to follow. There's no rule saying white grapes have to be picked before reds and the prediction is that a lot of low yielding Shiraz vineyards and early ripening varieties such as Tempranillo will come in before some of the Semillon vineyards.
It hasn’t been an easy growing season but the hot, dry weather in late December through January has saved the day. Vintage is an exciting time in the Valley with the buzz of tractors, harvesters and wineries busy around the clock. The many months of hard work in the vineyard comes to fruition as the baton is passed from the viticulturists to the winemakers.
Stay tuned for a full round up of #v23 when it wraps up at the end of March !
Many of our members reached out to us during the recent floods asking how it would affect the vines. It has been a rough year for many vineyard owners that's for sure. Some vineyards in Broke were completely submerged such as the Harrowby vineyard in Broke where Little Wine Co Albarino, Pecorino, Tempranillo and Barbera are grown. Where the river broke its banks there has been significant damage to the trellis systems and some vineyard rows were completely swept away into the Wollombi Brook.
Fortunately the flooding occurred when the vines were in their winter dormancy so there was no damage to any new season growth. We are now well into the growing season; flowering is complete and bunches have mini to pea size berries. For the first time in the Hunter, vineyard owners utilised helicopters to apply early fungicide sprays to the vines where it was too wet for tractors to enter. This is an expensive but necessary solution to give the vines the best start for the 2023 vintage.
And finally now for some good news! The weather has turned and we have just had two weeks of sunny weather - in a row! There is a definite air of cautious optimism buzzing about the Valley for the 2023 vintage so stay tuned!
It will come as no surprise to learn that rain was a feature of the 2022 Hunter vintage. With over 180 millimetres of rain in early February it was certainly a year for vigilance in the vineyard. The mild weather and cooler conditions delayed harvest which proved to be a blessing in disguise allowing the fruit to hang until some very welcome drying winds and warm, sunny periods came along.
The longer ripening season made for some incredible flavours in the whites which came into the winery with beautiful acid profiles. Keep an eye out for some absolutely stunning Chardonnays along with alternative varieties such as Albarino, Vermentino, Fiano and Pecorino. The reds are looking medium bodied, and the cooler conditions have imparted beautiful spice driven characteristics. All in all a tricky but solid vintage with whites being the true winner.
Our wonderful guests will be seeing some exciting new changes ... we have moved all of our tasting experiences into our beautiful Wine Lounge overlooking the lawns and lake!
We are refurbishing our tasting bar area (keep an eye out for some exciting news coming soon!) and so we will be hosting all of our Wine Experiences in the Wine Lounge.
You can select from our fantastic range of wine experiences including:
And if you just fancy a glass of wine on the terrace you can book the Wine House Oasis. We look forward to welcoming you into this beautiful space on your next visit!
The French call it Rosé, the Italians Rosato, the Spanish Rosado. Which does kind of make you wonder why we here in Australia don’t simply call it Pink?
Anyway, not to worry. The fact is Rosé is huge in Australia, but the plethora of styles, varieties and shades of pink can be a little confusing. Whilst we can’t give you clear cut rules to help you choose the perfect drop, we can at least bust a few myths:
Myth #1 - Rosé is made by mixing red and white wine together
Whilst this technique exists it is not how most rosés are made. Red wine spends a long time on skins (which is why it is red) and this increases the amount of tannin in the wine. Blending white wine with the red wine will dilute these tannins but the resulting wine will still be gripper than desired and is a less than ideal technique.
Most rosé is made by using the juice from red grapes (which starts out white) and giving it a short amount of time in contact with the red skins. The amount of time it spends in contact with the red skins is how winemakers ‘dial’ up or down the colour. Given the current trend for very pale rosés this is usually only a matter of hours. Which leads us to myth #2…
Myth #2 – The colour of Rosé is a good indication of how it will taste
Depending on the variety the rosé is made from, just a few extra hours on skins can give the wine a much deeper colour. But that extra time on skins doesn’t have a huge effect on the flavour profile of the resulting wine. Which means you can have a deeply coloured rosé which will taste just as light and fruity as a very pale rosé.
However! Rosés made from different varieties will have different colours as well as different flavour profiles. For instance, rosés made from Sangiovese, Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo can have a slight orange tinge to them and tend to be more savoury whereas rosés made from Shiraz and Grenache will be a brighter shade of pink and can have more of a confectionary lift.
Myth # 3 Rosés are low in alcohol (this can be a dangerous one)
Rosé is pink and pretty and oh so fruity and we love drinking it at lunchtime so it’s low in alcohol right? Not necessarily! Rosé is made from red grapes and most winemakers will wait until the grapes are fully ripe to get the best flavours. So unless the rosé is a sweeter style (that is, not all the sugar has been converted to alcohol) then the rosé can be anywhere from 12.0 to 14.5% alcohol so be sure to check the label!
So now that you are rosé enlightened (or thoroughly confused) perhaps it’s time to pour a glass and soothe your aching brain. Check out our Rosé page to see the fabulous collection of new release rosés made by some of our favourite winemakers. Simply chill, enjoy and clock off. After all, it’s just pink wine!
An exerpt from a recent article in Traveller. Read the entire article by Rob McFarland online here.
THE WINE PLAYGROUND ... TELL ME MORE Wine House Hunter Valley is an innovative tasting hub where you can sample more than 40 wines from 20 different wineries.
WHY WE LOVE IT Given the region's bewildering number of cellar doors, the ability to try a variety of wines under one roof can save you a lot of time and effort. Once you've figured out what you like, the centre's knowledgeable staff can recommend specific wineries to visit. We particularly like the Icon Wine Journey package, where you can use a pre-charged tasting card to self-serve premium offerings such as De Iuliis' gold medal-winning 2017 shiraz.
DON'T MISS The Cocoa Nib Chocolate and Wine Tasting experience, which pairs four delicious handmade Cocoa Nib chocolates with four premium Hunter wines.
Perhaps it's the region's proximity to Sydney (two hours on a good day) that encourages this sense of familiarity. Or maybe it's the blurry memories of boozy bus tours in our youth.
Whatever the reason, it's easy to overlook the Hunter's impressive credentials. These include the fact that not only is it Australia's oldest wine region (the first vines were planted in the early 1820s) but it also has the highest number of cellar doors (more than 150).
Despite producing less than half a per cent of the country's wine, its flagship varietals are world-renowned. British wine writer Jancis Robinson famously described Hunter semillon as "Australia's unique gift to the wine world".
Bright and citrusy when first picked, it ages graciously in the bottle, developing mellow honey and brioche characteristics. Hunter shiraz also has a trademark style, medium bodied with a fruity sweetness. And let's not forget chardonnay, the region's most ubiquitous varietal, which comes in a range of styles, from clean, crisp peachy numbers to rich, buttery and oak-infused.
While the Hunter is best known for these seminal grapes, a new breed of maverick winemakers is experimenting with lesser-known vines and innovative techniques.
One area in which the Hunter has consistently over-delivered is as a culinary destination. Restaurants such as Muse, Bistro Molines, Margan and Restaurant Botanica are worth the drive from Sydney alone. All four are enthusiastic supporters of regional produce and three were awarded 2020 Good Food Guide hats.
While food and wine are the Hunter's most championed drawcards, the region also boasts distilleries, breweries, health retreats, family attractions and activities from horse-riding and hot air ballooning to bushwalking and golf. It's a reminder not only of the destination's broad appeal, but also that it's constantly evolving.
So, if the Hunter is somewhere you feel you've "been there, done that", here is a selection of innovative offerings (and not all confined to wine), recently tried and tasted by Traveller, that may well entice you back.