Argentine Wine and Imported Wine


Aug 10, 2009
I'd love to be able to get to know wine here better. I've had some pretty good experiences with Argentine wine, but lately I've been missing the world of wine that you have access to in the United States. And many of the wines that I see stocked here tend to be the same producers -- Norton, Rutini, Dona Paula, Gascon -- and the same grapes (Malbec, Torrentes). There are other grapes, but frequently it's the same producers doing seven or eight varietals.

I know that they handle other grapes well here, but have no idea where to start. Which regions/producers are best with which varietals? Where can I find the best selection? Does anyone have experience with a good wine bar in BA or restaurants that could give me a foothold? Also, not to sound exceedingly queer, but what's my best chance for yeasty French-style champagne?
I also miss the diversity of wine that we don't get here in Argentina. I'd love to hear Jim's recommendations for some wine that are comparable to the European ones.

My favorite grape variety so far is the Bonarda. It's closest to Italian type wines, not as sweet and heavy as many of the wines here.

As for champana, we did a very unscientific taste test. Of the seven we tried only one was close to the French style. The rest were super sweet (and they were the bruts!). I remember price/quality Santa Julia came out best. The big winner was also the most expensive of the ones we tried. I'll have to dig out the list to tell you which that was.
Most of the usual suspects from the USA area also available here.

Cabernet Sauvignon
Syrah (Shiraz)
Pinot Noir
Sauvignon Blanc

Not sure about:

Pinot Grigio
Cab Franc

I also am finding that I like Bonardo. In fact, I had a pretty nice AR$27 bottle of Bonardo from the lesser known VALBONA bodega at a wine tasting this past Thursday night at 0800-VINO. (I also like VALBONA's Syrah rosé.)

Check out their website:

And give Nigel a call and he can get you started on your way. He's a sommelier who owns a cellar here in town and also offers free delivery. He can put together a sampler case or two and you can go from there.

I'd love to see the list, and any other recommendations. Aside from a small familiarity with Argentine Malbec, I had very little knowledge of Argentine wine coming down. I guess I should look at it as a challenge, but at first glance it's really bewildering. I had a Bonarda this weekend that I thought was terrific, or just guideposts as to understanding who's who and what's good.
I am sorry to say that you have to pay fairly high prices to get quality wine here. $30 pesos is rock bottom for anything good and there is very little good for that price. You can get LOS CARDOS, the second tier line of Doña Paula for around that price. Their Sauvignon Blanc is excellent (full of fruit) and has apparently won a couple of prizes. In general you can find some good wine by sticking to the second tier line of major wine producers. Most quality wine sells for $50 pesos and up - and way up. The good thing is that restaurants do not have a high markup on quality wines. Seldom more than 50% whereas it can be 300% in the US + tax. The lower quality, cheaper wines however have a higher markup in Argentina. In the US I watch the sales. Every week the liquor stores stack cases of wine offered at very good discounts - French, German, Californian, South African, Australian, New Zealand etc. A lot of the New World wine is first rate. I generally pay around $15 dollars a bottle which is not much more than I usually pay here but I get a huge variety and I can sometimes pay less than $15 dollars. As for variety of wineries in Argentina, there are a lot of small producers. It is often hard to find them, however. You read a review by Derek Foster in the Herald and look for the wine and no-one has it! You just have to look around at the boutique wine shops and experiment. Unfortunately it's become expensive but the quality of Argentine wine has soared. It used to be a high volume and not very high quality operation. Incidentally, the only TRULY Argentine varietal is the Torrontes which comes from the Salta area. It is a wonderfully fruity but dry wine not generally liked in ARgentina. I think they are exporting a lot to the UK and some to the US.
I disagree with that Sergio! You need to go to a wine tasting at Nigel's, you'll be please to find that he always has a few gems for around 20 pesos a bottle. He stocks some of the usual suspects but mostly wines that you won't find easily elsewhere in the city.

You can get Cab Franc here.

However right now we're drinking a lot of Colome's Amalaya (a blend, i think it's now 45 pesos, so not cheap cheap) and Valbona's Bonarda (19 pesos at 0800 vinos). Valbona also has a nice Rose that I think was at about 22pesos last time I bought it.
0800 vinos looks terrific. I can't wait to try it.

If anyone is interested in getting together every few weeks or so to do a wine tasting, let me know and I'll set something up.
If anyone is looking for another alternative to 0800's tastings (I've done them, too) - Wine Tour Urbano just started back up last month and they have a wine tour once a month. It's a fun way to try a handful of different wines, meet people, etc. Typically there are 10 shops in Palermo Viejo that are each pouring 2 or 3 wines a piece (depending on the theme). First time is 50 pesos, but if you bring your glass back it's only 25 pesos. 7-10pm tomorrow, Malabia y Honduras.