Last week Mendoza was filled with buzz and excitement as a two day wine tasting took place at the Intercontinental Hotel with the opportunity to taste 30 of Argentina’s most highly scored wines at a seated tasting. Now in its fourth year, this tasting is not just a chance for consumers to taste the top but also for many winemakers to taste their peers’ best wines in a blind tasting, and indeed out of the 300 attendees last Friday evening over half were winemakers.
Organized by Nicolas Aleman, the wines in the blind tasting are all selected according to the highest points given by renowned critics Robert Parker and Stephen Tanzer and presented blind (with labels covered) in an expertly run three hour tasting where you can sip and swirl your way through 5 flights of 6 wines and give them your own score or appraisal before the wines' identities are revealed. After each wine was revealed, the winemaker or owner of the winery made a short two minute presentation about their wine, where it comes from, and why they decided to make it that way.
As an added bonus this year there was the chance to pick your favorite wine of each flight with a personal electronic voting pad, and so before each wine was named there was a quick tally onscreen of the room’s favorite pick! Clearly to the relief of many producers in the room, no wines scored zero votes and there were rarely majority winners – proving there is, indeed, a different favorite wine for every dfferent taste.
As expected from Argentina there were many single variety and Malbec dominated blends in the line up (only three wines didn’t have Malbec!) but the tasting did show how different winemaking styles and terroirs can offer a good range of diversity albeit often within one variety.
While it is clear that Argentina remains Malbec country, there was a notable presence of Cabernet Franc in the blends which is clearly becoming the preferred blending partner for Argentina’s traditional champion grape. Another very notable tendency in the wines (the case for 19 out of 30 wines) was a preference for the poorer soils and slightly cooler climate of the Uco Valley, in particular Guaytallary. All 30 out of 30 wines came from Mendoza.
Whether you went for education or fun, it is one of the most unique opportunities to taste a flight of top wines side by side in a blind tasting and hear from each of the winemakers talking about their wine. If you missed it this year, you can go ahead and save the date for next year’s tasting (usually the second or third week of August), or this year for the first time the Premium Tasting is going to Brazil, in Sao Paulo on September 16th and 17th www.premiumtasting.com.ar
Alternatively, here is a list of all the participating wines so you can indulge in an absolutely fabulous collection of wines to taste at home at your leisure!
Amanda Barnes is a British wine journalist living in Mendoza and has been attempting for five years to create a wine collection of some of Argentina’s top wines, but they never seem to last in her cellar more than a fortnight (two weeks)… You can see more of the wines she consumes and some of the other experiences she consumes on www.amandabarnes.co.uk