Argentine Patagonia is often referred to as “the end of the world” (el fin del mundo, in Spanish), due to its extreme southern location. It is a remote place that evokes solace, but it is also a beautiful place with lush landscapes surrounded by the seemingly infinite Andes mountain range. This is where you’ll find the province of Neuquén, where wines worth traveling to the end of the world for are created.
Founded in 1999 in San Patricio del Chañar, about 35 miles northwest of the city of Neuquén, Bodega del Fin del Mundo was the pioneer winery in the area. Now there are a dozen more.
This area, formerly occupied by the Patagonian Desert, has become a charming landscape with ideal conditions for the development of quality wines thanks to its climatic conditions: an unusual 68-degrees Fahrenheit difference between day and night, little humidity and low rain fall (usually no more than 7 inches per year). These attributes make for fruitful vineyards, and provide the wines with intense hues, pleasant acidity levels and great complexity.
On the other hand, with rains so scarce, a drip irrigation system is a necessity. The irrigation system is fed by water from the Neuquén River and by the melting glaciers of the Andes. Fertilizers and minerals are also infused into the land, ensuring optimal growing conditions and perfect development for the vines.
[more-links]Bodega del Fin del Mundo’s unique terroir is made of rock and sand. The vineyards, which spread out over 3 miles, are considered to be the world’s most southern. Red and white grapes are grown, among them: cabernet sauvignon, malbec, merlot, pinot noir, tannat, cabernet franc, syrah, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, sémillon and viognier.
The winery’s first creation, a 2002 malbec, was awarded a silver medal at the prestigious Catad’Or Wine Awards competition in Chile, a first of multiple national and international awards.
In 2003, the current winery buildings were opened, boasting technological advances. In 2005, founder and proprietor Julio Viola met the prestigious French winemaker Michel Rolland. Upon seeing the region’s potential, Rolland took on the role of wine consultant alongside enologist Marcel Miral.
Today, Bodega del Fin del Mundo continues to produce high-quality wines that are well regarded throughout the world, wines created for the demanding international market and divided into different collections: Special Blend, Reserva, Postales, Newen, Gran Reserva and Fin Single Vineyard.
It’s difficult to make a recommendation, since they are all distinguished enological creations, but if I had to tip my hat to just a few, I would recommend the following: the Newen Reservado Sauvignon Blanc (US$160), the Fin Single Vineyard Malbec (beginning at US$460) and the unforgettable Fin del Mundo Special Blend Reserva (around US$800). ■
PHOTOS: © Bodega del Fin del Mundo.