With the Andes as a beautiful backdrop, the tracts of land under vine have propelled Argentina into fifth position in terms of world wine production. The most important wine region within the country is Mendoza, accounting for about 70% of output. Four seasons without extremes of temperature, and natural irrigation when the snows melt, together lend the wines consistency and reliability. While many French (and Spanish, and Italian) grape varieties are grown here, the star red grape is Malbec - it was formerly a mainstay in Bordeaux until Cabernet Sauvignon-based blends gained in popularity. Wine made with Malbec is robust and deeply coloured, but still fruity; it benefits from oak ageing, and is somewhat reminiscent of Cabernet Sauvignon in flavour.