About Terrazas de los Andes
In the 1950s, Moet realized that the global demand for sparkling wines was outpacing their production capabilities. They began searching for ideal vineyard locations outside of France. They ended up settling on Mendoza, founding Bodegas Chandon, known for its fruity sparkling wines. In 1991 Moet-Hennessy began their foray into still wine, and by the end of the decade had founded Terrazas de los Andes for this purpose. Technically an offshoot of Bodegas Chandon (the two are a quick drive from each other), Terrazas de los Andes specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and old-vine Malbec. This is a major operation, drawing grapes from several vineyards throughout Mendoza. Terrazas focuses on matching varietal to elevation -- 1200 m for Chardonnay, 1100m for Malbec, 980m for Cabernet. Winemaker Adrian Meyer's reserva and afincado (formerly gran reserva) line-ups are impressively concentrated, tannic wines in a modern style, made mostly from the massive vineyard holdings of the parent company. Cheval des Andes, a Cabernet-Malbec blend, is a joint venture between Terrazas and Pierre Lurton, director of Château Cheval Blanc.
Until the early 1990s, Argentina's wine industry was focused inward, as the local market's thirst was sufficient to absorb the huge quantities of everyday drinking wine produced there. But with per-capita consumption in the domestic market in sharp decline since the mid-1970s, Argentina's wine producers realized that they had to look to export markets to remain in business, and winemaking in Argentina began its transformation.
In just a few short years, Argentina has shifted its emphasis to the production of quality wine and turned its attention to export markets. Vine yields have been reduced dramatically. Large old wood casks have been widely replaced by oak barriques. And a major wave of new planting has taken place in mostly cooler, high-altitude sites that are better suited to producing serious wines, such as the Uco Valley, in the foothills of the Andes, about 80 miles south of the city of Mendoza. Despite the widespread reduction of vine yields, Argentina remains a huge wine producer, ranking number five in the world. Red Argentine wines, especially those from Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and blends incorporating these two varieties, represent the lion's share of the best bottles.
Many of today's finest Argentine wines have barely five years of history. Consulting winemakers from California and Europe have brought their technical expertise to Argentina, as well as their knowledge of what is necessary to compete in the world wine market. At the same time, there has been an explosion of foreign investment by wealthy wine producers, luxury corporations and individual investors attracted by inexpensive vineyard land and by Argentina's warm, dry climate. Since the Argentine peso was sharply devalued in late 2001, land prices have been even more attractive to outside investors.