Named Best Sommelier of Argentina in 2010 and 2014, winner of the A.S.I. & APAS Best Sommelier of the Americas in 2015 and 4th at the A.S.I. Best Sommelier in the World in 2016, Paz Levinson can now add Decanter World Wine Awards 'Regional Chair of Argentina' to her long list of achievements.
Currently the Executive Head Sommelier at Groupe Pic, with Anne-Sophie Pic restaurants located in France, the UK, Switzerland and Singapore, we ask Levinson about wine judging and her expert opinion on the wines of Argentina.
In Argentina at the moment, are there any grape varieties in particular that you think consumers should try or discover more of?
Malbec is our main red grape and the market knows Malbec. But I encourage consumers to keep on tasting Malbec from different origins in Argentina. It is impressive how Malbec can be a transparent grape. It is very sensible and shows the place very well.
Cabernet Franc, both single varietal versions and blended with Malbec, are showing this grape like no other county does. It’s like a combination between Anjou and Saint-Emilion with the factor of altitude, resulting in very expressive wines on the nose, full of spices and bell pepper, and on the palate very fresh, with chalky tannins but with body and weight.
White wines (white blends and single grape varieties) are giving great surprises to Argentina. From Semillon, Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño and Chenin Blanc to white blends from the mountain, there are such special wines now in the market with plenty of choice, of great quality and price.
What do you love most about wines from Argentina?
I love the unique character that the wines from Argentina have. I love the creativity of the winemakers, the curiosity and endless explorations. We don’t have a tradition that imposes a unique style so we are quite free to explore what the terroirs of Argentina can give.
I love Malbec; it is a very special grape variety. It is very perfumed and fruity but also can be quite austere, still with a lot of character on the palate. Today we can identify different terroirs while tasting and have a deep understanding of the great wines Argentina is making with a very competitive price.
Malbec is a very important category at the Decanter World Wine Awards. Normally we have lots of samples to taste and the quality is very high. We are lucky to taste wines from a country that sends the best wines on the market to taste.
What do you look for when judging wine? Is there anything in particular that makes a wine stand out for you?
I look for delicious wines that give joy and pleasure. In general terms I’m looking for balance and harmony and wines that show the body of the grape variety with the soul of the origin.
If we go more in detail, for a wine to drink during the year, I look mainly to the first sentence: joy and pleasure, showing the grape variety and having a great price for the quality achieved. For wines with potential to keep, balance is very important as well: Balance between the fruits and the oak for example.
A great wine has potential to age, so we are going to evaluate this important factor. Tannins must be of great quality as well. No matter if the wine is still young, but needs to taste great! We are going to look for the origin and the specific markers about this.
What are you most looking forward to during judging at DWWA this year?
This is a very special year. It is not only challenging for the judges but also for the wines. We are seeing things quite differently than in February 2020.
I’m looking forward tasting all the wines that had been stored some extra months. This will give roundness and balance to many of them, and for Argentina this will be beneficial. The distance between the judges will also play an important role. I think it will be a totally different experience than before.
Decanter World Wine Awards 2020 results will be announced on Decanter.com this 22 September 2020.