A New Winery in Argentina
In the world of wine, Argentina is well known for its red wines such as Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon from the provinces of Mendoza, San Juan, and La Rioja. However, in recent years, winemakers have started experimenting with different varietals in other parts of Argentina. One such experiment is Bodega Costa & Pampa (formerly Mar & Pampa) by Bodegas Trapiche.
Costa & Pampa is located outside of Mar del Plata, a popular beach destination five hours south of Buenos Aires. It is an unusual location for a vineyard in Argentina, as the area is characterized by large amounts of rainfall and cool weather. Unlike Mendoza which receives 100-200 mm rain annually, Mar del Plata typically receives 1000-1200 mm annually. Late frost is another concern winemakers in Mar del Plata face each Spring. Despite these challenges, winemakers from Trapiche are using Costa & Pampa to see which grape varietals grow best in this region. Five years ago, they began by planting varietals that thrive in South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia, which have similar latitudes as Mar del Plata, to see how they would fare.
In January 2015, Costa & Pampa opened its doors to visitors for the first time. Out of the many varietals they first experimented with, the winemakers produced five wines from 2014: Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. These wines were well received by the wine community, with the Gewürztraminer and Riesling selling out quickly. Each year, they plan to continue their efforts to plant more varietals, produce wine, and see which grapes make the best wine in Mar del Plata.
A Visit to Costa & Pampa
While on vacation in Mar del Plata, I visited Costa & Pampa. They offer guided tours in English and Spanish, plus a tasting of four wines, for AR$100. Knowing how new the winery was, I wasn’t expecting to taste incredible wine; instead, I was eager just to learn more about Trapiche’s experiment to expand Argentina’s wine regions beyond those currently in existence.
To my delight, the tour focused specifically on the experimental nature of Costa & Pampa rather than just a standard lesson on winemaking. During the tour, the guide explained how the winemakers solved many of the problems of growing vines in Mar del Plata. For example, to account for all the rainfall, the vineyard was planted on the highest point on the property so that the rain can easily run off. In addition, plants that absorb a lot of water were planted between the rows of vines. Late frost is another concern, as this can kill new buds and greatly affect the year’s harvest. To prevent frost from forming on the plants, the winemakers set up little coal-burning stoves throughout the vineyard to heat up the area and keep away the frost. It was fascinating to learn about how the team at Trapiche and Costa & Pampa continue innovating to overcome each potential setback.
The conversation continued into the tasting room where we tried Costa & Pampa’s 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. Due to the heavy rainfall, the wines from Costa & Pampa tend to be lighter in color and body. However, all the wines, though young, were drinkable and showed potential for great things to come. For the fourth tasting, we tried Fond de Cave 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, a gran reserva wine by Bodegas Trapiche, a great example of the quality winemakers strive to achieve with Costa & Pampa.
After the tour and tasting, I ordered a glass of the Chardonnay and a picada, sat at one of the outdoor tables, and enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere of the vineyard. I also enjoyed walking around the property and seeing horses, rabbits, and flocks of parakeets.
I found this winery experience to be quite different than any other I’ve had before. Since Costa & Pampa is so young, I didn’t visit expecting to taste the world’s greatest wine. However, what I tasted made me excited about its future; it is, after all, being run by some of the best winemakers in the business. It’s a fascinating look at the start of what could be the next big wine of Argentina.
Bodega Costa & Pampa
Av Antartida Argentina Km 16, Chapadmalal
Estancia Santa Isabel, Mar del Plata 7600
Open Daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Tour & Tasting: AR$100 (Available in English and Spanish)