Argentine Olive Oil

(Photo by riccardo bruni)

Over the past twelve years Argentina has slowly been building its name in the international olive oil industry. In fact, it is currently the first olive oil producer in the Americas and the 10th  in the world! Much like it did with wine,  it is progressively building its notoriety, and is producing top quality first cold pressed extra virgin olive oils, as well as exploring with different varieties such as Arbequina (typical of the Spanish Catalan and Aragon regions), Frantoio (originally from Tuscany), Manzanilla (also from Spain), and Arauco (which some consider the Malbec of olives).

The main regions of olive oil production are the wine areas of Mendoza, Catamarca, La Rioja and San Juan, and also, on a smaller scale, Cordoba province.   It is the wineries themselves that have introduced these delectable and nutrient packed oils into the market, and also into the tourism sector. Just a few weeks ago, Mendoza inaugurated it’s Ruta del Olivo (olive oil route) where olive oil tastings, spa treatments, and the chance of visiting olive plantations and participating in the harvest and production of oils, are offered to enthusiastic visitors.

In Buenos Aires, boutique wine stores sell these new Argentine delicacies. www.mondoliva.com has an online store with reviews by olive oil specialists, and offers olive oil tastings in the city; a must for picky palates!

Wine Regions of Argentina: La Rioja

(Photo by pablodf)

Although Mendoza is Argentina’s top wine region, La Rioja, is one of the oldest and has the longest continued history of wine production in the country.  The Spanish-named province was planted with grapes by Jesuit missionaries who settled there in the 16th century, and is the main producer of our white, crisp Torrontés Riojano, an indigenous grape from which truly local wine is made.

The main winemaking area in La Rioja is Chilecito where the Famatina Valley is located. The high altitude, low humidity, the sandy loam soils and sunny weather make this an ideal place for viticulture with Torrontés Riojano and Bonarda as the main cultivated varieties, although Muscat of Alexandria, Pinot Grigio, Malbec and Syrah are also thriving in the area. Other interesting wine producing areas are Nonogasta, Vichigasta, Anillaco, and Famatina, representing roughly 3,7% of the total area with vineyards in Argentina.

For a special sample of Argentine wines, accompanied by snacks from HG Restaurant, don’t miss our weekly tastings every Thursday starting at 7PM at Fierro Hotel.  Soler 5862, Palermo. 3220 6800. recepcion@fierrohotel.com.