Articles Tagged argentina wine
Am I crazy for thinking Chilean wines still have way too much pyrazine/green pepper action?
Well… am I???
That’s a question that’s been on my mind lately, especially after taking part in the Wines of Chile red blends on-line tasting recently and finding myself in the minority of participants who found the levels of nettle / green pepper aromas in the reds almost… distracting. The Syrah-based wines showed the most promise (and to me the lower amounts of pyrazine action). In my experience, those green-ish aromas are ok in very, very small quantities, adding hints of interesting smells to the dark fruits and giving reds the occasional bump from “very good” to “astoundingly complex” territory.
Notice I am saying “very very small quantities” and I mean just that – the pyrazines that contribute to those aromas are potent and a little goes a loooooong way, baby.
To be honest, I’m beginning to think that Chile may never really get it totally together on this; it might just be part of their climate, their terroir, their vinous destiny.
Which means that Argentina might be poised to clean Chile’s clock in the South American fine red wine market.
Not all Chilean reds are overly green, and I’m not the only one who thinks that Syrah might be the variety with the brightest (and least green) future in Chile: Michael Cox from Wines of Chile said the same thing during his talk at the recent European Wine Bloggers Conference in Vienna.
BUT… After tasting more and more examples of excellent, complex, and reasonably-priced higher-end red blends from Argentina, I’m growing increasingly more convinced that Argentina’s future is looking rosey… er, make that dark red… and that the one who might suffer most from that success is Chile, at least in the U.S. because consumers here probably don’t prefer the wet blanket of green bell pepper aromas laying all over the dense black fruit of their supple reds.
This all really hit home for me when I caught up with Argentine producer Doña Paula’s Edgardo Del Pópolo, their head Viticulturalist and Operations Manager, for dinner in downtown Philly to taste through their recent releases and generally talk shop. Edgardo didn’t think I was crazy for being turned off by the pyrazines in Chilean reds, but he was a bit more diplomatic about the differences and saw them mostly as complimentary. He did, however, offer this tidbit:
“In South America, we have a saying: shopping for wine here is like shopping at the grocery; in Argentina you get your fruit, and in Chile you get your vegetables…”
Never mind that Doña Paula’s Torrontes is a killer entrant into invigorated the S. American white wine market (it’s got a killer nose of passion and star fruits); their Seleccion de Bodega Malbec is not only proof that Argentina has nailed the dark-fruit-profile red thang, it’s also a great example of how complex (think hints of graphite) and age-worthy Malbec can be in the right hands.
And the pepper? Black, white, but definitely not green. Sign me up, baby.
So… I ask YOU… am I crazy? Shout it out in the comments.
To get you started, here are some of the responses (the serious and not-so-serious!) to that same question when I posed it on twitter and facebook last week…
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If you live in the U.S. (and chances are high that if you’re reading this, you are in the U.S.), then it’s likely that you’ve been drinking some low-priced Malbec wine lately.
Don’t take my word for it – for some hard data on Malbec drinking trends in the U.S., you can check out a recent article by Laura Saieg on WineSur.com:
“According to a report issued by Nielsen, in the last 52 weeks, the consumption of Malbec grew by 60%. This makes Malbec the best performing variety in the US market… In 2009, in spite of the pronounced decline of American economy, there was a consumption increase of 6 million cases with respect to 2008. Most of these cases were within the retail price bracket of under USD 10 per bottle. This was due to the fact that, in response to the crisis, consumers changed their habits and chose less expensive wines. Americans changed from consuming less expensive bottles to focusing on obtaining the best possible value. Restaurant wine sales fell by 6% to 9% this year as consumers, under tight budgets, stopped dining out and preferred to stay at home and buy wine at wine stores.”
Maybe you’ve had one (or several) of those extra 72 million bottles of Malbec consumed in the good ol’ U.S. of A. last year? Looks like we can’t get enough of the stuff.
What’s most interesting, from a marketing / consumption / trending standpoint, is that you probably had that bottle at home while overall you were drinking less expensive wine (in both senses of the term).
By any measure, that’s a big coop for Malbec producers during the global recession, and it will be interesting to see if the trend continues. It’s unclear from the WineSur.com article if most of the Malbec that we Americans gulped down was from Argentina, but it’s not unreasonable to conclude that.
Which might be why the French, who invented the stuff, are coming (possibly quite late) to Malbec bandwagon party…
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This is a guest post from frequent 1WineDude.com contributor Jason Whiteside, who recently attained his WSET Diploma in Wines & Spirits (with Merit). Jason recently returned from a trip to Argentina, cataloged below, in which he went inside Bodega Catena Zapata to answer the question “How Well Does New World Malbec Age?” His trip recap. coinincides nicely with an interview I recently gave for WineSur.com, in which they asked me about the state of Argentinian wine in the U.S. (for some reason, they left out my comment that Argentinian Malbec needs to prove its high-end age-worthiness… oh, well…). As an added bonus, Jason also gives us a peek inside the mind of your physician in the era of health care debate. Enjoy!
I recently spent a week in Mendoza, Argentina on a singular, secret mission assigned to me by The Dude: find out how well Argentine Malbec will age. The assignment seemed simple enough; I was headed to Mendoza anyhow as guests of Winebow and the Catena family. If anyone knew about the age-worthy qualities of high-end Malbec, it was the folks at Catena. What I didn’t know is how hard I would work to find the answer, and that I would have to rely on years of elite training in a secret language to get the answer.
Laura Catena isn’t just the President of Bodega Catena Zapata. Even with all of the responsibility that alone entails, she has a life outside of wine. She is also Laura Catena, MD, and an Emergency Room Physician at UCSF. When I uncovered this little fact about her, I knew I’d leave Mendoza with an answer to our collective Malbec question. You might not know this about me, but I was trained to speak DOCTOR.
It has been many years since I was a professional doctor-botherer. I don’t speak about it much, but it is indeed a part of my pre-wine life. Before my career in wine sales and education, I was a Pharmaceutical Salesman. Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca; I was trained by the best. Almost nine years of my life were spent charming receptionists, nurses, and anybody else in the way, just so I could get 45 seconds of a doctor’s time, in order to tell him/her some science stuff he/she already knew. The job was a big waste of time, but the sales training was priceless. And learning how to speak DOCTOR sometimes really pays off…
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