Chubut – Argentina’s New Emerging Wine Region

With just 65 hectares of vines, the emerging wine region of Chubut in Patagonia is Argentina’s most southerly region.

Patagonia encompasses over 50% of the total landmass of Argentina, which is 5% of its population. The area consists of four main wine-producing provinces: La Pampa, Neuquén, Río Negro and Chubut. Despite its size, the region only has 1.88% of the country’s vineyards. While the first winery opened, in Río Negro, in 1909, much of the rest of the GI is relatively new, particularly Chubut.

Just 65 hectares of vines are planted in Chubut, 50ha of which are controlled by Bodega Otronia in Sarmiento. These are among the southernmost vineyards in the world, occupying a latitude of 45°. With winds as high as 110kmph and rainfall as low as 200mm per year, Maximo Rocca, commercial director of Otronia, describes it as a totally “new way of winemaking in a new world of wine production”.

“Our winemakers decided not to talk about terroir but micro-terroir,” he says, noting how from the start, the producer’s vineyards have been divided into blocks. Achieving just half a kilo of grapes per plant, Otronia has invested in a series of different-sized untoasted foudres, as well as concrete tanks and eggs in which to age its wines.

With two traditional method sparklers made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the pipeline, Otronia has released just two wines: a white blend made from Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay; and a single varietal Chardonnay, made from a blend of two blocks.

“It’s going to be a word-of-mouth project,” says Rocca. “It’s difficult to explain what we’re doing in just one sentence.

Praising the support of the local government, he says the winery aims to work with sommeliers to create “a team of ambassadors to communicate what Chubut is doing and tell the story”.

Moving northwest, around the towns of Trevelen and El Bolsón, rainfall is higher and conditions are less blustery, but frost is a near-constant threat.

With the majority of producers having just a couple of vintages under their belts, this is a region still finding its feet, both in terms of the grapes that can be grown and the style it should produce.

Sparkling experiments

Like Otronia, Casa Yagüe is also experimenting with sparkling, having also released a Sauvignon Blanc and two single-varietal Chardonnays, one with oak, the other without. “We want to do a lot of things, but we’re going step by step,” explains Juli Yagüe, head of PR and trainee winemaker, who recounts how the winery has an automatic sprinkler- and frost-prevention system, which is triggered when the temperature drops below 0ºC. The winery has just planted Pinot Noir and has the potential to produce a maximum of 20,000 liters.

Moving further north, red varieties are more prevalent, with Pinot Noir and Merlot particularly finding favor.

At Nant y Fall, based on the curiously named Valle 16 de Octubre outside of Trevelen, Pinot Noir is the most planted variety. Having released two wines – a still red Pinot Noir and a rosé Pinot Noir – the producer hopes to launch a Riesling and a Gewürztraminer in December.

Family member and winemaker Emmanuel Rodriguez says: “Summer temperatures here range from -2ºC to 35ºC, and all four seasons are extreme.”

With the aim of producing 17,000 bottles once all 2.5ha are in production, Rodriguez is experimenting with his first oak barrels, as well as using different yeasts in his Pinot Noir to enhance both the structure and the aromatic profile.

Two hours’ drive further north, fellow family-owned producer Chacra Adamow has had its fair share of hardships. Having been assured that its site was frost-free, the producer lost 60% of its first crop in its first year. Proving resilient, it replanted its damaged vines and is aiming to hit the 10,000 mark in order to be “commercial”.

Overcoming problems

Planted with Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, Pedro Adamow, the owner of the estate, says: “We were excited by the result we achieved in 2015, but we know there are still many problems to overcome. The goal is to keep 10,000 vines alive then build our own winery. Our dream is to have an oenotourism business with a restaurant, hotel and tasting room.”

At such an early stage of proceedings, and without viticultural knowledge of the area, Adamow describes each vintage as “a silver bullet”.

“You only get one shot then you have to wait another year to correct any mistakes that you made,” he says. “It can be frustrating.”

Adamow’s wines are made by Camilo De Bernardi of Familia De Bernardi, just over the border into Río Negro by the town of El Bolsón.

Another producer that is overcoming challenging conditions and using them to its advantage is Familia Ayestarán, which produces wine under the Oriundo label. Winemaker Darío González Maldonado said that he’d made what he believes to be Argentina’s first ice wine. Made from 100% Gewürtztraminer, Maldonado explained that he harvested the grapes when temperatures hit -8 degrees Celsius and followed the regulations that govern ice wine production in Canada and Germany. Argentina has no guidelines for this type of wine.

The resulting 11% ABV wine contains 50g/l of residual sugar, with only 300 bottles made in total. Having taken control of an abandoned 17-year-old vineyard in El Hoyo back in 2014, Familia Ayestarán had its first proper vintage in 2017 and also produces a Merlot, white blend and sparkling wine.

Biodynamic hopes

With two hectares of vines, including Pinot Noir, Merlot, Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc, De Bernardi hopes to one day become biodynamic.

“I’m focusing on getting the acid balance right at the moment,” he says, confessing that he is still not completely satisfied with the style of his wines.

However, despite struggling with frost, he noted that his reds were able to achieve almost 14% ABV – much higher than other wines in the area.

Plans are afoot to help local restaurants stock wines from Chubut, while the government is organizing a press trip to the region for journalists based in Buenos Aires.

As things stand, Otronia’s Rocca notes: “Chubut’s wines need to be consumed with knowledge. There’s a trend for wine production in cool and extreme areas, but we’re all still learning because it’s all so different from how they do things in Mendoza. You’ve got to bear in mind that we’re 2,000km further south,” he says.

That distance, however, is also a blessing. Argentina now has a new region capable of producing aromatic white varieties and fresher, light reds, while the acidity achieved in grapes provides an ideal base wine for sparkling. Chubut’s potential, therefore, is far-reaching.

Source: Drinks Business

Vinexpo Paris 2020 under the patronage of the President of the French Republic

Vinexpo Paris 2020 under the patronage of the President of the French Republic

Vinexpo Paris 2020 has announced that it has been placed under the patronage of Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic. Vinexpo’s events across the globe currently include Bordeaux, New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai and now Paris 2020.

Vinexpo Paris is currently preparing its big Parisian event, which will be dedicated to the sector’s international professionals, and will take place from 10 to 12 February at the Paris Convention Centre. This event welcomes exhibitors from all around the world, including French and international leading brands.

Some of these brands will inaugurate the unique concept of L’Avenue, created by Vinexpo Paris. This Haussmann-styled space, more intimate, will enable its participants to feel like in a street of Parisian elegance while being at the heart of the fair.

https://www.vinexpoparis.com/?lang=en

US and EU winegrowers hit back at Trump’s proposed Tariffs on EU wine

US members of international grower organization Wine Origins Alliance have written to the government’s trade representative, calling for the scrapping of proposed tariffs on EU wine.
In a letter to US trade representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, the group strongly urged him to exclude wine and wine products from the list of goods that may be subject to WTO tariff countermeasures, as a result of a WTO dispute over EU subsidies to Airbus.

It echoes a similar letter from the organization’s European contingent to the European Trade Commissioner, signed by representatives from Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, Chianti, Rioja, and Jerez.

The Wine Origins Alliance comprises 25 organizations across 10 counties, which together represents nearly 80,000 wineries and growers, who are focussed on promoting and protecting wine growing place names worldwide and preventing the purposeful misuse of geographic names.

The appeal after the US government identified $21 billion-worth of EU good imports, including wine and cheese, which it said could be subject to tariffs in the ratcheting up of trade hostilities between the two blocks in response to the EU subsiding aerospace and defense group Airbus. Last year the WTO ruled the EU subsidies to the company were illegal in the culmination of a 14-year dispute between Airbus and US company Boeing.

In response the EU is also expected to authorize tariffs countermeasures on US-made wine and other products.

The letter pointed out that the US and the EU are two of the world’s leading wine producers and last year collectively exporting $28 billion of product and urged the US trade representative to remove wine from the list and work with the EU to reduce and eliminate tariffs.

“We urge you to work with the EU government to reduce or eliminated wine tariffs, not raise them. Promoting wine exports by removing trade barriers is critical to driving industry growth and creating new industry jobs,” it said.

Signatories of the letter include the President of the Napa Valley Vintners Association, Linda Reiff, Sonoma County Vintners’ executive director Michael Haney, Oregon Winegrowers Association CEO Tom Danowski, alongside representatives from Pasa Robles Wine Country Alliance, the Long Island Wine Council, Santa Barbara Vintners, the Missouri Wine and Grape Board, and Willamette Valley Wineries Association.

In a similar move, the presidents of the Conseil Interprofessional du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB), Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico, Bureau Interprofessional des Vins de Bourgogne (BIVB), Consejo Regulador DOCa Rioja, Comité Champagne and Consejo Regulador del Vino del Jerez urged the EC’s Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström to exclude wine from any list of goods on the tariff countermeasure list.

Source: Drinks Business

Chablis Invests €4.8M in innovative methanation system for winegrowers

The BIVB in Chablis has confirmed that the Chablis Winegrowers Union is to implement a new innovative methanation system that will recycle all by-products from the winemaking process. This is a breakthrough in the region’s move toward greater sustainability.

The £4.8m methanation facility is expected to be up and running by the fall of 2021. It follows a six-month study in Belgium to test the feasibility of the project using a ‘pilot’ system, with wine by-products brought over from Chablis to find the most efficient method of methanation.

Methanation is the conversion of carbon oxides and hydrogen to methane and water through hydrogenation. It can also be used as a means of producing a synthetic natural gas, and as a way to store energy produced from solar or wind power, which would allow it to serve as a potential carbon capture mechanism.

Last month the Union’s general assembly voted in favour of the project.

The methanisation processing area will be located in the south of Chablis where 700 winemakers, belonging to the Union, will be able to bring the by-products of their winemaking to be processed.

Grape pomace will be passed through a machine to separate any seeds, which research found unsuitable for the process. These will instead be set aside for alternative uses such as cosmetics.

The remaining wine pomace will then be placed in covered silos where the fermentation process begins; then finally into the methanisation machine.

The biogas (gasses) produced by the machine will be directly injected into the Gaz Réseau Distribution France (GRDF) circuits, the natural gas distribution network in France. The remaining product left in the machine will be sold as fertilizer.

Louis Moreau, president of the BIVB Chablis, said: “We are proud to be one of the first wine regions to put in place a methanation process of this kind and on this scale as well. Sustainability is a key focus for Chablis and the rest of Bourgogne so our winemakers are always looking at new innovations on both small and large scale projects.

“We believe the new system will be a success and with a younger generation of winemakers who have traveled the world for their studies and then come home to Chablis, we will work hand-in-hand with them to bring in new practices to protect the environment and our terroir.”

https://www.chablis-wines.com/what-is-the-bivb/what-is-the-bivb,1872,7709.html?

Air Canada Sommelier Veronique Rivest Talks Wine in the Sky

Award-winning Canadian Sommelier, Veronique Rivest, is Air Canada’s very own sommelier. The Quebec-born Rivest explains how she chooses wines for Air Canada’s premium passengers.

Why did you choose to partner with Air Canada? Tell us about your role as Air Canada Sommelier

Veronique: I’ve worked with restaurants, hotels, and other establishments—but never an airline! It’s definitely an exciting avenue to explore. I’m really proud to be working with Canada’s national carrier, which is allowing me to showcase the work of many talented Canadian and international winemakers to a premium clientele who enjoy exploration and adventure.

What makes wine taste good (or bad) in the air?

Veronique: Environment has a huge influence on the way we taste, including who we’re with and the space we’re in. Then, flights bring up other considerations. I think about the way wine will make customers feel in the air—what will be uplifting instead of bringing passengers down and making them tired. We know from research that food and wine can taste different at 30,000 feet. At the start of my partnership with Air Canada, I did my own tasting in the air and discovered that modern planes might lessen, but not remove the effects of altitude.

Luckily the Boeing 787s are equipped with special technology to counteract dry cabin environment, which vastly improves both air quality and humidity and has a positive effect on taste buds—meaning the wines on our lists taste fantastic at cruising altitude!

How do you ensure wines will taste “right” at 30,000 feet?

Veronique: I try to select wines that are vibrant, without too much tannin or oak, to contrast with the cabin environment and keep passengers feeling energized.

What do you take into consideration when pairing wine with the in-flight menu?

Veronique: First and foremost, because the food and wine menus don’t change at the same time, I always make sure to select well-balanced wines. I then assess whether or not the wine is “food-friendly”, as some wines pair well with more foods than others. Overall, I look for wines that have fresh acidity, with moderate alcohol levels and bright flavours.

What types of wines make your lists?

Veronique: The wine list for Air Canada Signature Class changes every three months and is designed to pair with Chef Hawskworth’s delicious menu items. Depending on the routes, there are always four to five wines (a combination of reds and whites) on the menu, plus one champagne. In North America Business Class, the wine menu is meant to be paired with gourmet cuisine. And I always strive to feature at least one Canadian wine to showcase our country’s many great wineries and give passengers a little taste of home.

Here is a short video how she chooses the vintages served to Air Canada passengers. Also, find out what it takes to pair food and wine at 30,000 feet.

https://www.aircanada.com/ca/en/aco/home/about/media/media-features/wine-in-the-sky.html

Happy National Wine Day, santé!

Liz Palmer and
Val from Air Canada