Wednesday, 4. March 2015
Source: Meininger’s Wine Business International | Felicity Carter.
In mid-February, some of the wine world’s most talented women assembled in the Park Hyatt Mendoza to judge the annual Wines of Argentina Wine Awards.
The theme this year was ‘The Empowerment of Women in Wine’. It was an invitation I thought twice about, because all-female events can reinforce the idea that women are a minority group, peripheral to the business of wine. The reality is that in most of the major markets, women make up at least 50% – if not more – of wine consumers: drivers of the market, rather than outliers.
Now, though, I’m extremely glad I went, not least because it gave me a chance to meet some of the industry’s most accomplished people – the room was packed with MWs, critics and decision makers. Plus, several Argentine women told me the event sent an important signal in a country that can still be very macho, even in this day and age.
But why the female theme in the first place? It’s because every year Wines of Argentina (WofA) seeks to tap an important sector of the wine market. One year all the judges might be Chinese experts; another time, they might be top sommeliers. The tasting, organised by the magnificent Jane Hunt MW of Hunt & Coady, is set up to encourage panelists to discuss, compare, disagree and re-taste, to ensure each wine has an optimal chance. There is at least one local per panel who can explain a style or region, so I came away feeling I’d undertaken an immersive three-day masterclass.
At the end of the week, the visiting judges were asked to give a presentation at an industry seminar: either a case study of a brand that’s successful in a given market, or on what a particular market thinks of Argentina.
Annette Scarfe MW, discussing the markets of Hong Kong and Singapore, said that consumers in those markets know little about Argentina. She advised producers to pay attention to professional women in the market, as more lawyers and bankers are signing up to do WSET courses. Scarfe added that a wine and food matching programme could be helpful for those markets.
Susan Kostrzewa, executive editor of Wine Enthusiast magazine, agreed that talking about food matching also worked well for the US’s female demographic. She added that it was important not to overlook women in the premium market, as American women are increasingly wealthy in their own right, owning more than 50% of shares, for example. She also emphasised that social media was where the conversations about wine were happening.
Shari Mogk-Edwards, vice-president of products, sales and merchandising at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), on the other hand, said the major consumers of Argentine wines in Canada were urban males. In her lively and data-driven presentation, Mogk-Edwards said that the New World side of the LCBO’s business was growing, although the under-C$10.00 ($8.00) segment was declining. She warned listeners that Torrontés, Argentina’s flagship white, didn’t work in her market, and also that producers should “stop with the heavy bottles”, a theme that several panelists (myself included) took up.
Critic Sara d’Amato of WineAlign.com in Ontario, Canada, said there were signs of stagnation of the Argentine segment in her market, and that consumers perceived the wines as “hot” and perhaps unvaried. Wine writer Megumi Nishida of Japan pointed to the rise of beef-eating culture in that country as an excellent opportunity for Argentina.
By the end of the morning, anybody listening knew exactly what Argentina’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities were, in all their major markets.
Argentina is a country grappling with a number of economic issues. President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner – who is proof that female leaders can be just as controversial as male ones – has imposed currency controls, while there has been falling industrial production and rising prices. As a consequence, WofA needs to do ever more work on a tight budget.
They’ve risen to the challenge. Changing the judges each year means Argentina is putting its wines in front of the wine world’s most influential people, while the seminar ensures the country benefits not just from their guest’s palates, but their expertise and market knowledge.
So how did the all-women panel do? Apparently we were less argumentative than male judges, less likely to give up when tired, and less likely to hand out gold medals than previous panels. We also awarded more medals to smaller and more boutique wineries.
It will be interesting to compare our results with those of the 2016 panel, especially if WofA follow up current proposals to demonstrate their even-handedness by having an all-male panel in 2016.
Wines of Argentina, the organisation responsible for the image of Vino Argentino around the world have announced the Argentina Wine Awards (AWA) 2015: “The Empowerment of Women in wine”. This event, planned and designed to evaluate and reward the quality and progress of Argentina’s wine industry, has earned its place as the country’s most important event.
The ninth edition of the AWA will be held from 8 to 13 February 2015 in the province of Mendoza and will emphasise women’s empowerment and the role played by women in the industry. The purpose of this issue is to find out what the leading women in wine think about Argentine wines. Lee mas
by Fred Tasker @ The Buffalo News
on September 3, 2014
In a restaurant in Buenos Aires, I ordered a “half” parrillada, so they plunked down only about five pounds of beef on the hibachi grill on my table. There were a half-dozen cuts of Argentina’s rich and chewy grass-fed beef – steaks, chops, blood sausages, kabobs … and a curious off-white rectangle cut about the size and shape of a box of matches.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Señor, it is the udder.”
The waiter beamed. My wife paled. My 8-year-old daughter made her lunch the french fries. I cut a little piece and chewed. It was tough and flavorless – utterly unlike the tender, juicy rest of the feast. Another life adventure chalked up.
But the wine. Oh, the wine was Malbec, the redolent, blue-velvet wine that has put Argentina on the map. It smelled and tasted of black sweet cherries and dark chocolate, with ample body and ripe tannins that gave it a silky finish.
Sipping Malbec all by itself is popular because it’s like biting into one of those indulgent chocolate-cherry bonbons by Brach’s. U.S. sippers in the influential 18-to-34 range flock to it for the same reason they like the Italian sparkling wine called Prosecco – it’s cool, and it’s cheap.
By Ted Scheffler on September 3, 2014
Salt Lake City’s Daily Feed
As we begin to put the wrap on another sizzling summer, I find myself being drawn towards Argentine Torrontes, a white wine that’s great all year round, but especially well-equipped for summer sipping.
The Torrontes grape grows like weeds throughout Argentina, and there are three different varieties: Sanjuanino, Mendocino, and Riojano. Since most of the Torrontes sold here is made from the Riojano variety, we’ll focus on that. It’s a grape that produces very aromatic wines – quite floral, with Gewürztraminer and Muscat-like aromas. If you like the floral qualities of Viognier, you’ll probably also enjoy Torrontes.
Torrontes wines are capable of being bone dry, but many I’ve tasted are off-dry, even slightly sweet, which make them a good choice for an aperitif, or just for sipping in the hammock. So, Torrontes can range from light and crisp, like Pinot Grigio, to rich and rounded, like big California Chards. In finding versions of Torrontes that are keepers, the main thing I look for – regardless of the wine style – is acidity.
by Carolyn Ali on September 3, 2014
Suddenly, it appears—a dimly lit bar throbbing with locals drinking wine and house-made gin cocktails. As we squeeze our way through the room, the red glow of embers behind the long bar catches my eye. To my amazement, a chef is grilling rib-eye steaks and whole fish over blazing charcoal—underground.
That was at Floreria Atlantico, one of the city’s famous speakeasy-type bars accessed through a hidden entrance. Really, it shouldn’t have surprised me that in Argentina you can dine on a charcoal-grilled steak in the basement of a flower shop. After a week of touring the country’s wine regions, I’d already experienced plenty of things that I’m still trying to get my head around, including the typical Argentine dinner hour, which starts around 9 p.m. and can last through midnight, even when there are children in tow.
While I returned from Argentina with reams of crimson-stained tasting notes, it’s the culture and the landscape behind the bottles that made the biggest impression. Tasting wine in its country of origin is like having dinner with a person you’ve only emailed with: you finally put a place to a name and never look at the wine the same way again.
23rd June 2014
Silvia Corti is the Head Winemaker at Argento, one of Bibendum’s most established Argentinean wine brands. We spoke to her about what inspires her, what she does as a winemaker and just how different each region of Mendoza is.
Why did you want to become a winemaker?
My grandparents introduced me to winemaking as a child growing up in Mendoza. I used to help make our family wine from their vineyards in Agrelo by helping to pick the grapes and filling bottles when the wine was ready. I loved the way it brought our family together, and I knew from an early age that I wanted to be winemaker. Ever since beginning my career as a winemaker more than 15 years ago, I continue to choose to be a winemaker again every day – it’s in my blood and part of my DNA.
Can you describe a typical day?
During harvest, my day starts at sunrise in the vineyard – checking the condition of the vines, the soil, irrigation etc. Typically I drive about 450-500 miles each week to visit all our vineyard areas, checking on the ripeness of the grapes and deciding when to pick them. I spend a lot of time in the car, but the Mendoza scenery is beautiful, so I can’t complain!
After that I go to the winery and taste all of the fermentation tanks, making decisions about the fermentation program, skin contact, temperatures etc. I also spend a lot of time in the laboratory deciding on the final blend of each wine, taking components from a wide variety of different terroirs and microclimates around Mendoza. For example, with Malbec we get deep colour and great aromatic intensity from the Uco Valley and we get fruity aromatic concentration and velvety tannins from the Central Region.
Read full article @ Made in Mendoza: A winemaker’s dream
February 23, 2014
Buenos Aires Herald by Sorrel Moseley-Williams.
Take a glass, preferably a wine-shaped one, and fill it with your Malbec of preference or a fun and floral Torrontés. We’re going to raise a toast to wine superstar Paz Levinson, who last week qualified as Argentina’s first Advanced Sommelier from the UK’s Court of Master Sommeliers. This, in case you aren’t quite sure, is a big deal. Speaking as one who is currently cooking the books in an attempt to become the lowest-ranked and least knowledgeable of sommeliers, trust me, it isn’t just about knocking back wine and slurring lyrical about it. No, no, I spit wine in school…
Urbandaddy JetSet Hotels
January 19, 2014
However, those studies were not conducted in a controlled environment with hot tubs and infinity pools and steaks grilled over roaring fires. So just to be sure…
Raise a glass to The Vines Resort & Spa, a few hundred acres of Mendoza wine country where you can live like an Argentine Dionysus, taking reservations now.
Think of this as summer camp for oenophiles (it’s basically July down there right now, you know). You’re staying in one of 22 villas, all tucked in a valley of nothing but vineyards and panoramic views of the Andes. And like any good camp, they keep a pretty strict schedule…
10 Jan 2014
The Telegraph by Victoria Moore
Argentina’s number one seller Malbec is a perfect comfort wine – a world away from Cahors, its gritty French forebear.
Let’s hope the 18th-century Frenchman responsible for propagating a certain grape, côt, through the Medoc, wasn’t a patriot. His name, Malbek, became synonymous with the grape but fate can be quixotic. Say it today and it’s not France you think of, it’s Argentina. Malbec, to give it the modern spelling, is not just Argentina’s biggest wine export – by a mile (we’re talking five times more, by value, than its closest competitor, cabernet sauvignon). It’s a vinous signature: an exuberant, big, scented style, a world away from the dense, grittily tannic, opaque wines from Cahors, that other centre of malbec excellence. And it has become a modern staple.
“Anything with Malbec on the bottle just flies out,” says Paola Tich of Park and Bridge wine shop in Acton.
Restaurant wine consultant and sommelier Alessandro Marchesan says Malbec is the red of choice of the well-lip-sticked out-of-towners who dine out in London at the weekend, in the same way that New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has been the white.
“Malbec is like pizza and sex,” he tweets. “It doesn’t matter how bad it is for some people it will still be OK.”
Oh, hang on, that doesn’t sound quite so positive. I’m certain Marchesan doesn’t have any bad ones on his lists at the Shard and Roka but you can sense a certain frustration and he’s right to make the point.
04 January 2014
Independent.ie by Liam Campbell
In the aftermath of Christmas and New Year festivities comes an antidote to rich and heavy fare that is as refreshing and fragrant as a mountain breeze through a May orchard in full blossom — it is called Torrontés.
Unique to Argentina, Torrontés is that country’s emblematic white wine. Descended from the grapey aromatic Muscat of Alexandria varietal and the local Argentine Criolla Chica, Torrontés is fragrant with white flowers and a peach and mango fruity character complemented by a little spice, not unlike Viognier. Most vineyards are well over 600m above sea level. Some reach 2,000m in the northern province of Salta near the town of Cafayate, the highest commercial vineyards in the world. These high-altitude vineyards produce wines with a purity and concentration of refreshing cool climate character, despite being located near the Equator. Farther south, in the satellite wine regions of Mendoza city, Tupungato is recognised as producing top quality wines while the Uco Valley’s high-altitude vineyards account for fresher and crisper acidity. San Juan is hotter and drier than Mendoza and is gaining a reputation for some of the country’s finest Shiraz.
You won’t see Argentina headlining wine auctions yet, but the world’s fifth-largest producer is beginning to make collectible wines. At this stage, buyers are more likely to have romantic reasons for embracing Argentina, though producers hope that wine investors may soon follow them into the market.
“Most of our clients that spend over US$80 a bottle have either visited Argentina and fallen in love with the country or are married to an Argentine,” says Christian Rothhardt, founder of specialist Argentine wine merchant Ruta 40 in London.
Tapping into the tourist trade is an important factor in Argentina itself. The Vines of Mendoza tasting room in the historic city encourages visitors to taste wines from different producers, after which they can ship bottles home and subsequently send orders from the United States.
“The average price of our wines sold [here] is US$45,” says head sommelier Mariana Onofri. “Once they have been here and experienced the great wines, they are confident spending more on Argentine wine in the future.”
That said, many of Argentina’s top wines are bought by affluent locals and wine-loving Brazilians on vacation. Visitors hunting out bargains are sometimes disillusioned to discover that the prices charged at the cellar door are higher than at home. Take, for example, one of Robert Parker’s top five producers in Argentina, Alta Vista. The 2007 vintage of its leading wine, Alto, sells at 600 pesos (US$92) yet is listed on Wine-Searcher at an average price of US$74 excl. tax. It’s not about ripping off tourists, either, as the same higher prices – and more – are charged in local wine stores and restaurants.
So, why are Argentine wines sold more cheaply 5,000 miles away than they are in the place of production? The anomaly arises because of the parlous state of the Argentine peso. At the time of publication, the official rate was 6.5 pesos to the U.S. dollar, while the black market rate was 10.3. It’s the official rate that’s used in exports.
Taking average worldwide prices as a barometer, here are the top 10 on Wine-Searcher’s list of Argentina’s Most Expensive Wines*. To be included, a wine must have been produced over five consecutive vintages and have a minimum of 20 different offers in our search engine.
4th December, 2013
The Drink Business by Lucy Shaw
While it may have built its reputation on Malbec, Argentina is no one-trick pony when it comes to wine, according to one of the country’s top boutique producers. Speaking to the drinks business at his estancia in the Pampas, Dario Werthein, owner of Bodegas Riglos said: “We’ve put our energy into Cabernet Franc to show that Argentina is no one trick pony. “We’re so serious about quality that we only produce 6,000 bottles a year and didn’t make a 2012 vintage as the grapes weren’t up to our standards.” Founded in 2002, the Riglos estate spans 72 hectares in Tupungato and the Uco Valley in Mendoza. Production is small, with only 80,000 bottles produced each year, including a Malbec, a Cabernet Sauvignon and red blend Gran Corte. Photo: Dario Werthein, owner of Bodegas Riglos. Photo credit: Colin Hampden-White
In Argentina, where the Malbec grape is king, winemakers have put a different and intriguing spin on what is usually known as a Bordeaux blend. Instead of the typical mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, they are relying primarily on Cabernet and Malbec.
Malbec because it dominates the vineyards of Mendoza, the country’s largest wine region. And Cabernet because making a top-of-the-line Malbec blend seems to beg for its cachet, especially if you have French partners.
Nov 28, 2013
Harpers by Richard Siddle
Wines of Argentina’s breakthrough Cambalache consumer event, that helped celebrate the best wine, food, music and art that the country has to offer, has come top in an industry award for brand experience. It has also been announced that Cambalache will return in 2014 with events planned for both London and New York.
November 21, 2013
Mendoza, Argentina.- Bodegas de Argentina, an association of 240 Argentine wineries designed to advance Argentine wine both nationally and abroad, today announced the publication of Argentina’s first wine and viticulture sustainability protocol. The 173-page document marks the culmination of a four-year study with the Catena Institute of Wine in collaboration with the association’s sustainability commission, local universities and government entities.
“Our winemaking region, a high altitude desert, is different from any other in the world,” said Laura Catena, founder of the Catena Institute of Wine. “The Bodegas de Argentina Sustainability Protocol takes into consideration our geographic, climatic and social environments, and will pave the way for small growers and wineries of all sizes to farm sustainably and preserve our centuries old viticultural heritage.” Lee mas