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DWWA 2014: Argentina insights

Hear from our Argentina Regional Chair Patricio Tapia on which wines to buy, which wines to leave on the shelf and what to keep an eye on from this year's Decanter World Wine Awards....

What happened with Argentinian wines at the DWWA in 2014 could only be described as an explosion. Argentina won five Trophies and eight Gold medals last year, but this year 12 Trophies and 37 Golds – boom! As Regional Chair, this haul was a little embarrassing (64% of the 579 entries sent in received some kind of award). I had to wonder if our panel was being too generous, but after retasting the medal-winners, any doubts I may have had disappeared. Argentina’s progress toward purer, fresher, less extracted wines with better use of oak has finally become evident. The best wines showed pure varietal expression and a clear sense of place.

What should we buy from here?

Malbec is still the brightest star – a grape where you can most clearly see the purity that Argentinian reds can reach. But don’t forget Torrontés, which keeps getting fresher and more mineral. The best examples continue to come from the heights of Salta, in northern Argentina, but there are also very good examples from Mendoza. Another variety worth discovering is Bonarda, which gives deliciously simple reds.

What should we leave on the shelf?

Doubts continue over the success of Cabernet Sauvignon here. Although there are good examples (especially at the higher price levels), Argentina’s generous sun and heat seem to be too much for this Bordeaux variety, which produces wines that are either overripe, sweet and alcoholic or simple and rustic. Merlot suffers a similar fate, with just a few great examples worthy of attention.

What should we keep an eye on?

Cabernet Franc – without a doubt the most on-trend variety among Argentina’s winemakers, especially in Mendoza. Although there are still very few examples in the market (we tried 12 and awarded one Trophy and three Golds), the potential is clear. Mixing the variety’s herbal aromas with polished textures and very good acidity, these are serious wines that offer a fresh alternative to Malbec. Another variety to watch is Chardonnay (winning two Trophies and three Golds), especially from the heights of the Uco Valley. Argentina can producer wines that are not only rich in fruit and texture, but that also have freshness and tense acidity, which drink with astonishing ease.

Written by Decanter

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