Last month, I was away in Mendoza playing Team America as an International judge in the 2013 Argentina Wine Awards. The AWAs were followed by a seminar that centered on the topic of how to reach “next generation” (Millennial) wine consumers. Today, I’m going to focus on the Trophy results of the AWAs – but believe me, a lot more is coming on the seminar and the topic of Millennial wine drinkers (including thoughts on the wines that my co-judges believed appealed to those next gen drinkers) later.
I’ve two main takeaways from the 2013 AWAs, which are organized by Wines of Argentina (who footed the bill for my participation) and Hunt & Cody (a UK-based team consisting of MW Jane Hunt and Tina Cody):
1) I was self-conscious just to be in the same room as the rest of the judges, all of whom I felt outranked me in terms of tasting prowess, winemaking knowledge and industry accomplishments (I feel privileged to have made fast friends with many of them), and
2) If you try to taste thirteen Gold Medal winning Malbecs in only a few minutes and rank them in order of preference so that a Trophy winner can be determined, you will destroy your palate’s ability to taste anything (including coffee, tea, air, water and, I suspect, crude oil) for several minutes afterward.
The entire process of judging was incredibly fun (despite being shut up in a large conference room in the Diplomatic hotel while the sun was raging all Summer-style outside our windows), and enjoyed seeing the different tolerances we all had as tasters. For example, the UK judges putting up with more Brett (having ben schooled on Old World / Western European wines), the Chinese judge having a higher tolerance for oxidation (because so much international wine reaches her only after it’s been impacted by oxygen), the Argentine winemaking judges almost universally accepting high levels of VA (sought after to smooth out the mouthfeel of those tersely tannic Malbecs).
As for yours truly, receiving boatloads of California samples has taken its toll: I clearly had higher tolerances for oak influences and riper fruits. Sigh…
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[ Editor’s note: following is the third guest post from the 1WD intern: the young, unpaid Shelby Vittek, who many of you will recall really shook things up with her first 1WD article (and continued that trend with her second). You can check out more of Shelby’s wine writing work at TableMatters.com, and find her on twitter at @BigBoldReds. You’re of course encouraged to chime in and let us know what you think (but keep things civil, you opinionated b*stards!). Enjoy! ]
Have you ever wanted to know what kinds of wines make up 1WineDude’s cellar? What exactly constitutes the mass of media samples he gets shipped every week? Where do they come from and exactly how many bottles are waiting to be opened and reviewed?
I used to wonder. But that was long before I spent months sorting through the endless boxes of wine samples in the cellar. In October, I bravely—and perhaps somewhat stupidly—agreed to take on the massive project of cataloguing and organizing them all. I had watched this episode of 1WineDude TV, (cut to 3:25) where I got my first preview of the mountain of boxes, but really had no idea how big of a challenge I had signed up for. At the start of my “internship,” I was prepared to personally catalogue maybe a couple hundred, 500 bottles at the most, and thought I’d finish the project within four or five weeks.
Yet here we are, over four months and 820 bottles later, and I’m just finally able to announce that every single wine has been accounted for and its details entered into a tracking spreadsheet. Of course, this number is bound to change the next time I hear the doorbell ring and am met with five more shipments of samples. But for now, the cataloging chaos has calmed, and my “wine friends” (as 1WD’s daughter calls them) have a slightly more organized home.
To celebrate the end of a huge undertaking—even if momentarily—I want to share with you some intimate details of the wines I’ve had my hands all over for months, as well as some things that surprised, perplexed, or disappointed me…
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Welcome to the Weekly Wine Quiz!
This week, we’re continuing a short run of questions about the Argentine wine biz, since I’ve recently returned from a two week jaunt down there (courtesy of Wines of Argentina) to judge in the 2013 Argentina Wine Awards (much more to come on all of that jazz soon). And we’re quoting Ozzy. Because we can. Anyway, these questions will all have originally appeared in the newsletter The Juice, but you already knew that, right?
Flying High Again: Argentina’s vineyards are planted up to about what elevation?
Cheers – and good luck!