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Argentina awards focus on affordable wines

Judges at the first Argentina Wine Awards had consumers firmly in their sights as they dealt out prize after prize to drinkable and affordable wines.

Nine trophies were awarded in a ceremony at Terrazas winery in Mendoza last week. Only one of the trophy winners, the Luigi Bosca Gala 3 white blend, costs more than £10 a bottle.

San Juan newcomer Don Domenico winery picked up the Syrah trophy for its Finca Don Domenico de Huanacache Syrah 2006, a wine expected to sell in the UK for around £6 a bottle.

Father and son winemakers Jorge and Matias Riccitelli won two of the top awards, for Bodega Norton Privada 2003 (best red blend) and Fabre Montmayou Malbec Gran Reserva 2005 (best Malbec).

The award for best Cabernet Sauvignon went to Bodegas Santa Ana La Mascota 2005.

James Forbes, the UK director of Wines of Argentina, said ‘The results of the competition show that Argentina can make great wine at all prices. It is exciting to see so many new wineries doing so well. This is the future for Argentina’.

Leading winemaker and judge Roberto de la Mota said: ‘The decision of the judges sends a very clear message to Argentina. We need to produce fresh, fruity wines with good drinkability – wines to enjoy, not just wines to win awards.’

The judges praised the overall quality of wines in the competition. Jancis Robinson MW noted the ‘steep improvements in Argentina, even in the last five years’ and Robert Joseph described the entries as ‘a world class collection of wines’.

Speaking before the ceremony, Oz Clarke urged Argentina to focus on producing wines with ‘a sense of place’ and to avoid producing ‘brands of emptiness’ like Yellowtail and Blossom Hill. Several judges expressed disappointment at the low number of white wines entered for the competition.

The competition was judged by team of eight UK wine professionals and four Argentinian winemakers. Of the 447 wines entered, 368 received awards: 24 gold, 145 silver and 199 bronze.

Written by Beverley Blanning MW in Mendoza

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