New World wines from South America have long been established as quality produce and the many awards that the wines from Chile and Argentina have won bear testament to this. The established wine producing regions of Europe have had to move over as their younger sibling has crashed the bed. Many of the European wine producing techniques have been adopted by these newer wine producing countries, and with superb climate and soils it all points to a highly successful recipe. However, some regions in Argentina are little known and their wines are almost unheard of. Such as the Neuquen region in Patagonia, and it is time they had a little more exposure.
Unless you are familiar with the Patagonian Desert, then you have probably never heard of Neuguen, the only people that will have heard of this remote northern area are probably connected to the oil industry. So it is interesting to hear that there are some boutique wineries in and around Neuguen that are producing some serious wine.
The Wine Region
Most Patagonian wine hails from the Neuquen province, and in particular the San Patricio del Chanar municipality. The region mostly consists of dry desert, it has a perfect climate for growing grapes with warm days and chilly nights. To say the wine industry in Patagonia is in its infancy is not exaggerating, viticulture here has only been in existence for around two decades. But the wines that are coming from places such as the Uco Valley are now considered some of the best in Argentina.
The temperatures in the region are not the only reason that grape growing flourishes here, the desert winds keep insects away and the vines healthy. The Pinot grape is notoriously difficult to grow but in Neuguen it flourishes. The Pinot Noir from Patagonia is dark red and busting full of flavor, probably the best Argentina produces. And the main two grape varietals you should sample from Neuquen are Pinot Noir, and the Merlot.
Familia Schroeder Winery
Bizarrely the theme of this family owned winery are dinosaurs, the last thing that you would expect when visiting Patagonia. But apparently when preparing the land for planting the vineyards the bones of one of the extinct creatures were unearthed. But getting back to the wine, try the Saurus wines during your tasting as they are quite exceptional and with a distinct color and aroma. There is also a restaurant on site to complete your experience.
Our second winery that we recommend is Malma which is quite a beautiful place to visit. The architecture is superb with the winery built into an actual hill so that it almost looks as though it is actually part of it. They offer an in-depth wine course of how to taste their wines before you actually get to sample any of the superb vintages that they produce at Malma. When visiting make sure you stop for lunch as the food is divine. The wines of Patagonia are some of the very best in the whole of Argentina, and if you would like to experience a fledgling industry producing some superb young wines then you really must go to the Neuguen region.