Pascual Toso Winery
Argentina has a long history of producing wines, however it is not until recently that they have had a reputation of producing outstanding quality wines. Like so many young impoverished wine producing wine countries Argentina for years only produced wines to satisfy the needs of the local wine consumers. Argentina was founded by Europeans and their culture of wine consumption made them one of the five largest wine producing countries of the world heading into the 21st century. The quality of the wines produced here has become apparent as every major wine producing country has invested in new vineyard plantings here over the last 20 years. With the price of California wine on the rise and the demise of the dollar versus the Euro, American wine lovers are looking in every direction for wine values today. One of the countries that offers the most "Bang for your Buck" in the Cabernet Sauvignon department today is Argentina. The economy has been challenged in this South American country and the U.S. dollar goes a long way when it comes to big hearty reds- after all this is a beef eating society and what better to wash down that 30 ounce t-bone than a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. The immigrants that founded Argentina came from continental Europe in the 1700’s and there were a large amount of Italians who emigrated during this time period. Many people who have visited this country see similarities between the European lifestyle and that of South America. In fact, Argentina was at one time one of the largest consumers of wine in the entire world- they ranked as high as #5 in terms of consumption at their peak. Ironically enough it was this popularity that was one of the main reasons why the quality of wines was so poor, most of the wine never left Argentina and the local consumers were not that discerning with what they drank. This all changed in the 1990’s as hard spirits became fashionable and wine consumption began to decline. This decline in wine sales left producers looking for a place to sell their juice. As exporters began to show the wines of Argentina to foreign markets they realized that to compete with the rest of the free world they would have to make higher quality wine. One of the most promising markets for Argentina’s wine in terms of exposure and long term relationship was the United States, but the quality of the wines would need to improve before the U.S. consumers would take the wines of Argentina seriously.
One of the most impressive wines that we have tasted this year from Argentina this year is from a major player in the Argentina wine business, Pascual Toso. When in the mid 1880s Pascual Toso set out towards Argentina from its home town, Canale D’Alba, in Piedmont, Italy, he might not have imagined that he was destined to be the founder of a winery that today is one of the oldest and most famous in the country as a result of the constant and undisputed quality of its products and its tradition. When he arrived in Argentina, he chose Mendoza as his place of residence and engaged in the import business. He promptly saw the outstanding quality of the wines produced here because he had grown in a viticulture area and had engaged in such business as a family tradition while he lived in Piedmont. For that reason he set up his first winery in San José, Guaymallén, in 1890.
At the beginning of the century he decided to expand his vineyards into an area called Las Barrancas, in Maipú, convinced that it was the highest quality area in the province. So he acquired an estate at Las Barrancas where he set up the relevant winemaking and cellar facilities. Time was also going to prove him right on this since today Las Barrancas, in the Department of Maipu, is unanimously considered by technicians as one of the highest quality producing areas, not only in the province but also in the country. Bodegas Toso was acquired in 1995 by J.Llorente y Cía, a company that since 1909 has stood out because of its excellent and quality products and has maintained the same philosophy imposed by Pascual Toso. Since its foundation in 1880, Bodegas y Viñedos Pascual Toso have been characterized by their ongoing innovation. In addition to making significant investment in new vineyards, equipment and improvements to optimize production, this traditional winery from Mendoza has recently summoned the internationally known Californian enologist Paul Hobbs to accompany the winery in this new stage. This expert has been working since 2001 on the development of premium and super-premium wines from both old and new vineyard sites throughout the Mendoza region. Paul Hobbs is one of the first winemkers to make the journey to South America to check out the potential of the vineyards from both Chile and Argentina. Paul has worked for some of the top names in California and has also had his own label since the early 1990's. Although he saw potential in both countries he favored the wines of Argentina overall and Paul took on a few consulting clients in the late 1990's as well as to begin a few of his own projects, including his Vina Cobos wines that are now considered to be among the best wines made in Argentina today. Many of the world's leading winemakers have sought work in the Southern hemisphere as the harvest happens at the opposite time of the year, it enables them to get two times as much experience making wines as you only get one shot per year if you stay at home on either side of the equator.
A bit about the Climate, Soil and the region of Barrancas in Mendoza:
In general, all grape-growing areas are located in dry regions with warm weather, where the winter seasons are well defined, there is high sun radiation level and the temperature range is nearly 15C. The annual mean temperature ranges between 13.8C and 18.3C. Following Winkler's system to classify grape-growing regions, these areas rank within the II and III region. Annual rainfall in all the grape-growing areas is between 150 and 400 mm. The highest rainfall levels occur in spring and summer. This amount of rainfall is not enough for vines, so it is necessary to resort river water or underground water watering systems. In general the area is not very windy.
The soil and climate conditions of the Mendoza river highland allow for growing quality varieties and producing high-quality wines. The area is located in the Province of Mendoza at approximately 33 south latitude. The mean temperature is 15C. The area is located near the city of Mendoza. Wines produced in this region are the greatest quality wines in Argentina. As one starts going down and losing altitude, the temperature is higher and different characteristics are found at close distance (not greater than 20 km). The climate conditions favor the development of color and tannins in wines, thus making them suitable for aging. The Malbec varietal is a typical variety and the vineyards, which are 40 years old or older, make this region a valuable and well-known area.
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