by Fred McMillin
for October 26, 1999


Trapiche (trah-PEE-chay) Chardonnay



1861—The town of Mendoza, Argentina is totally destroyed by a disasterous earthquake. The future founder of the Trapiche Winery, Italian Don Tiburcio Benegas, has an older brother in Mendoza.

1996—"The Trapiche Winery in Mendoza is believed to be the second-largest in the world." (Adam Strum, Wine Enthusiast)

Trapiche Winery How did that happen? Here are some milestones.


1865—Twenty-one-year-old Tiburcio arrives in Mendoza at his brother's urging. He notes that the only way to store your money safely is to bury it in the garden. At age 25 he founds a bank.

1870—Now a civic leader, he marries Lubina Blanco whose father is a wine expert, having published The Vines and Wines of Mendoza.

1883—Don Benegas has been bitten by Bacchus and buys the 625-acre property named...'EL TRAPICHE'! Wild llamas wonder among its low-quality vines.

1886—Now elected Governor of Mendoza province, he brings in the most modern French winery equipment, and is the first to import French vines.

O.K. Let's fast-forward a century and see how one of those French varieties is doing, Chardonnay.

1990, New York Times—Argentine Chardonnays show considerable promise. The best, Trapiche's among them, are clean and fresh.

1996, Wine Enthusiast—Trapiche is planting some of the best vineyards in the world...including bringing in outstanding clones from France.

So here's our Wine of the Day.

1997 Trapiche Chardonnay
Mendoza, Argentina
Winery Practices—Top flight. All grapes harvested by hand. Only new French oak. Half of the wine fermented in stainless steel to provide plenty of fruit to blend with the toasty oak.
Rating—RECOMMENDED. If you drink Chardonnays that are under $10, then you MUST try this one. Importer—The venerable firm of Frederick Wildman, NYC
Contact—Office of Public Relations Director Ms. Odila Galer-Noel, (212) 355-0700, FX (212) 355-4719


Argentina is a major player in the world of wine. My latest data, chiefly from the Wine Institute's Gladys Horiuchi, indicate it is the:

    6th largest consumer of wine in the world.
    5th largest producer of wine in the world.
    4th largest exporter of wine into the U.S.A.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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