It was suggested by the British critic Tim Atkin when he visited Argentine invited by Wines of Argentina during the last grape harvest: Argentina needs to experiment with Italian varieties for they are very successful in the market. California follows this trend, informed a wine journal this week. Researchers are working on 55 new varieties that adapt better to warm regions, foreseeing the advance of global warming. The research is conducted by the University of California’s Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center , but the market research is carried out by Constellation Brands (http://www.todovinos.cl/noticias/3956-en-california-investigan-nuevas-variedades-).
Argentina has its experimental program of grape varieties, too, developed by the INTA (National Institute of Agricultural Technology), though it has no support from the private sector, like in the United States. Agricultural engineer Santiago Sari, is in charge of the project in Mendoza, and he explains that the research, that is on its fourth year now, is based on 12 new grape varieties.
The analyzed varieties are popular in their place of origin for blending. There are 12 varieties in the representative lots in San Juan, Mendoza, and Rio Negro: Ancellota, Nebbiolo, Nero Dávola, Croatina, Caladoc, Grénache, Corvina, Rondinella, Touriga Nacional and Mouvèdre (red varieties) and Verdicchio, Riesling (white varieties).
Best-performing grape varieties
Some varieties have put in better performance than others. Ancellotta, maintains Sari, is native of northern Italy; it is very much used for providing color to musts or poor colored wines and shows good health. “It ripens earlier than Malbec, and with respect to wines, whether it comes from warm or cold zone, Ancellotta gives a lot of color; it has a high coloring intensity (3000 CI). Because it is a very ‘tannic’ grape; it needs to be managed in the winery to make a varietal wine, though, if fining agents are added it does not lose its color; it is not an aromatic variety and in the mouth, its expression will depend on its management.”
Another variety with excellent results is the Croatina, also from the north of Italy. “It is a medium-intense grape that was mainly used for port. The INTA works with clones that are more productive than the originals from Portugal. “To us it is very interesting because it displays a lot of fruity aromas, it works well as a varietal wine and it can be very useful for adding color to other foreign red varieties,” Sari explained.
Among the whites, Verdicchio grows with an excellent acidity, even in warm regions with 3,2 pH. “A dry or sweet white wine can be made from it. It shows floral aromas and fresh apricot notes depending on its ripeness; this varietal has achieved a lot of support,” underlined the researcher.
A popular variety in the north of Italy is Nebbiolo “a variety similar to the Pinot Noir that displays certain elegance in cold regions. It presents spicy aromas and it is well-bodied and tannic.”
Interesting on the nose
Rondinella and Grénache, two varieties poor in color, present in Argentina dry tannins and therefore require shorter macerations. “These grapes display a greater aromatic intensity when they are made as rosé wine.”
The quality of Caladoc, a Malbec and Grénache cross – crossing made by the INRA (National Institute for Agricultural Research, France) to provide the Grénache with more color and tannins in the south of France – is influenced by the terroir; “since it contains Malbec we already know that its characteristics depend a lot on the soil.”
Translation: Rocío Acosta