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Lighten Up: White Wines of Argentina & Spain

This summer, sip on something new, a refreshing white wine from Argentina or Spain. Let's face it, whether it’s a scarlet dress or a crimson pout, the color red commands attention. The red wines of Argentina and Rioja, Spain dominate the vino landscape, but the truth is that they both produce palate-friendly white wines that can douse the flames of a hot summer day, one cool sip at a time.

“White wine from Rioja fills an artisanal niche,” said Ana Fabiano, Rioja trade director and brand ambassador and author of the book, The Wine Region of Rioja. “White wine accounts for about 4 percent of production in Rioja, compared with 90 percent for red.”

Most white wines from Rioja are made from the Viura grape, which is known as Macabeo in other parts of Spain. Viura on its own can be described as moderately floral and to add character it’s often blended with Malvasia and Garnacha Blanca, the latter being a rarity, according to Fabiano.

Argentine whites already enjoy some popularity thanks to Torrontés, which for some time has been considered Argentina’s signature white variety.

“Torrontés is a highly aromatic wine, with white fruit and floral aromas including roses, white peach, and tropical mango,” said Pablo Ranea, a Mendoza native and chef at Pirca Food and Wine.

Ranea, who just completed a culinary tour of the United States during which he showcased Argentine-style food and wine pairing, adds that Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are growing in exports and gaining followers and rave reviews from renowned wine critics.

The beauty of white wines from Argentina and Rioja is that they’re food-friendly. Fabiano recommends pairing white Riojas with shellfish. Since Viura is naturally acidic, she suggests serving it with summer salads. Ranea is a proponent of pairing wines with foods from the same region. His ideal match for Argentine Chardonnay is King Crab from Tierra Del Fuego.

Next, white wines worth trying from Rioja and Argentina... 

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