Urban is the handiwork of Bodegas y Viñedos O. Fournier, one of Argentina’s premier wine producers in Mendoza’s Valle du Uco. Begun in 2000, O. Fournier is part of international wine maker José Manuel Ortega’s recently established wine empire that includes exceptional wineries in Argentina, Chile, and Spain. Recently nominated by the Wine Enthusiast for its much coveted Innovator of the Year Award, José Manuel Ortega is responsible for raising the quality quotient and the proverbial bar wherever he makes wine. However, nowhere has his influence and wine making prowess been more significant than in Argentina, which until recently was known more for its potential than its performance.
Thanks to Ortega and a budding number of quality minded wine makers, Argentina no longer stakes its reputation on just how much wine it produces; today, Argentina is able to claim its long awaited place as a producer of exceptional wines. And although Ortega has excelled with traditional Argentine varietals such as Malbec and Torrontes, he has also achieved notable success at Urban with Tempranillo and other European grape varieties.
Grapes for Urban’s finest selections hail from Mendoza’s magical Valle de Uco, a high elevation zone (up to 4,000 ft.) where grapes ripen fully over an extended period of time. Here a difference of 50º F between day and night time temperatures during the long growing season affords the grapes the perfect combination of sugar and acid. Such conditions also lend themselves to amplifying aromatics – the calling cards of Urban wines.
Argentina: Where Quality and Quantity Abound
Argentina has long been one of the world’s leading producers and consumers of wine. Presently, this sprawling nation, which contains some of the world’s most diverse geography: tropical jungle, barren desert, towering snow-capped mountains and windswept deserted islands that herald Antarctica, is the world’s fifth largest producer of wine and the planet’s third largest consumer of the fruit of the vine, placing it just behind Italy and France. As an interesting comparison, Argentina consumes more than five times the amount of wine per capita as does the United States (10.5 gallons per capita in Argentina versus just 2.00 gallons per head in the United States). Moreover, Argentina is no longer just a source of good, plentiful, everyday plonk; it is increasingly a treasure chest of world class wines.
Since the 1980s, an infusion of international talent has transformed the Mendoza. With the likes of Paul Hobbs, Jacques and Francois Lurton, José Manuel Ortega, and most recently Marco de Grazia, Argentina and the “Mighty Mendoza” are finally coming into their own. This once sleeping giant now houses a treasure trove of fine wines, with the wonders of Malbec in the vanguard. Excellent Cabernet Sauvignon is also being fashioned here, and in recent years, Argentina has made great strides in the production of white wines, too, most notably with Chardonnay and Torrontes, the latter an Argentine specialty. Viva Argentina!