A Taste of Rhone in the Uco Valley Part One - The Red Trilogy

By Mariana Onofri, Wine Director, The Vines of Mendoza

When you think of Argentine wines, Malbec is always out front.  And we love a great Malbec.

But we also like to experiment and push the envelope, having planted an amazing 32 different grapes with our owners.  Santiago is a Rhone lover and has been working with a few of our owners to prove that our terroir can not only deliver on the Bordeaux varietals Mendoza is famous for, but can also shine with the famous red (Grenache, Syrah & Mourvedre) and white (Marsanne, Roussanne & Viogner) trilogies from the Rhone.

The Secret to the Côtes du Rhône Blends

There are 19 different grapes used in Côtes du Rhône and Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines. Of the 19 varieties, there are really just three varieties that define the style for reds and three for whites. On the red side, in the Rhone, it is all about Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre.


By far the lightest of the three wines, Grenache adds candied fruit, raspberry, cinnamon spice and Ruby Red grapefruit flavors. Typically Grenache accounts for the largest portion of a southern Côtes du Rhône wine. Although Grenache is light in color it can add high alcohol levels to the blend, giving GSM wines a long, tingly finish. The expression in the Uco Valley is very attractive - providing wines with medium body, bright acidity and appealing spicy character. Personally, I love Grenache by itself in Argentina as well.


Syrah is famous as the grape of the northern Rhône region (for the well-known regions of Hermitage and Côte Rotie). Syrah adds the darker fruit flavors of blueberry, plum and even black olive to the Côtes du Rhône blend. Syrah can be very savory tasting, often imparting that classic “bacon fat” aroma that people note on the wines from the Rhône. In our Valley, the Syrah has a slightly more fruit-forward character with gentle tannins.


If you ever want to try a single variety Mourvèdre (and you should, they’re delicious), look for French Bandol or a Spanish Monastrell. Mourvèdre itself is a deeply rich dark wine, similar to Syrah, but with a more persistent finish. The grape is used somewhat sparingly in Côtes du Rhône to add tannin structure and floral aromas. Usually the latter to be harvested from the three, with a bit more herbaceous character. We really like it co-fermented with its partners, providing nice structure and long finish.

Here are two GSM wines made by two wineries within The Vines of Mendoza’s Winemakers Village. 

In addition, we also have two private vineyard owners, Elise Ruiz Ramon (Nunum), Dario Rosenzvit (Maño Rojo) and our Co-Founder Michael Evans (Uco’s Playground) with GSM in the making at The Vines of Mendoza’s winery. 

COROZÓN DEL SOL LUMINOSO 2012 – The first GSM produced in Argentina

The 2012 Luminoso is a blend of the ancient Mediterranean grape varieties blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre from a mere three acres of Corazon del Sol´s estate vineyards, located at 1,100 meters within Winemakers Village at the western edge of Uco Valley´s Los Sauces. Influenced by the vineyard´s river stones, reminiscent of Southern France´s Châteauneuf-du-Pape region. This wine is composed of equal proportions, with Grenache and Mourvèdre being co-fermented alongside the Syrah in stainless steel microfermentors, then blended together before maturing for 24 months in French oak barrels. 

The wine is elegant with clean aromas of fresh red fruit, pepper, spices, and earth. The Grenache gives the blend an ethereal character, polished and silky with vibrant acidity, and a seductively drinkable personality. The Mediterranean herbs and dried dark fruit character develops with time in the glass, turning spicier.

VER SACRUM (Eduardo Soler), GSM 2014

2014 Ver Sacrum GSM. This GSM (Grenache with 25% each of Syrah and Mourvèdre) is the most complex of the Ver Sacrum wines, fermented in open barrels. Spicy, nuanced and balanced with flavors that are almost Pinot Noir-like in texture and subtlety, it’s a wine that should inspire more people to plant Rhône grapes. 2016-19 (Tasting note courtesy of Tim Atkin).