It is true that overall, in Argentina, we tend to have very stable vintages that allow us to produce, year after year, wines within a certain degree of quality constancy. Because we are in a desert region we are able to control a very important factor – irrigation. If you are able to make precise decisions during the growing season, the probability of making a very good wine every year is very attainable.
I do, however, believe there are interesting differences between vintages in Argentina. It is important not to generalize and talk of Argentina as a single wine region, as unfortunately many wine guides do. Instead, Argentina should be specifically assessed by region. It is a big country with very well-defined and distinct wine regions, from Salta in the north to Rio Negro in Patagonia. Even within Mendoza, there are four main wine regions that are all very distinct. Even beyond differentiating regions, specifications should be made among the varietals as well. For example, a good year for Malbec might not be the best year for Cabernet Sauvignon.
The truth is that a year with difficult climatic conditions, tends to make a superb vintage. It is actually in those difficult years, when the vines struggle and growers take the right decisions at the right moment, when we are able to judge that a vintage is a great one. Of course that does depend on from which viewpoint you are making that evaluation. A good year for a mass grape producer might be very different then for a winemaker who is looking for the best grape quality without caring much about volume.
According to Paul Hobbs and Alberto Antonini, International winemakers, 2011 was a year with equal or better quality compared to the 2002 and 2006 harvests – the best ones registered in Argentina’s history – mainly because of the balance of the wines, fruit expression, elegance, pureness and fruit clarity. I have to say that 2011 was a great year for The Vines of Mendoza. When tasting the wines with Santiago Achaval, our consulting winemaker, and Pablo Martorell, our head winemaker, we all agreed that the quality obtained in 2011 from our relatively young vines is amazing. The wines have an amazingly deep color, , great tannin structure, a lot of fruit expression, and very good aging potential.
Personally, I do believe in the differentiation of vintages and I think it is a challenge for our industry to market the wines and price them according to the results we obtain in the different years. I understand cash flow is important for wineries, and so holding on to the best vintages and waiting for the right moment to release a wine can be very difficult decision. Yet, I bet there are many wine lovers that would adore walking into the best wineries in Argentina and being able to purchase our best vintages without caring much about price. As they probably do in some of the best wineries around the world!
The Vines Winemaking team – Pablo Gimenez Riili, Pablo Martorell, Santiago Achaval, Mariana Onofri – tasting the 2011 vintage.