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

The Top Ten Winegrowers in Sonoma, California by Acreage

A Wine Business Monthly survey indicates Jackson Family Wines grows the most grapes in Sonoma County, followed by E&J Gallo. Other top growers include the pension fund owned by TIAA-CREF, Treasury Wine Estates and Rodney Strong Vineyards.

The survey was completed by phone, email, and analysis of Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner records and other public databases. Growers in the survey noted that planted vineyard acreage is bound to change as they pull vines or replant.

Tony Correia, president of The Correia Co., also expects to see new vineyard transactions. Some may be driven by the lack of family succession planning or “just plain owner fatigue” due to challenges property owners face, including; weather, regulations and a slowing wine market. Correia also predicts that larger wineries may decide to liquidate vineyards to improve financial performance.

Vineyard pricing in Sonoma, like in Napa, is either flat or up while prices in California’s other wine regions are down, according to Ciatti’s presentation during Wine Business Monthly’s Vineyard Economics Symposium (VES) in May.

Correia, who also spoke at VES, stated the average cost for prime vineyards in Russian River Valley or the Sonoma Coast runs between $175,000 and $180,000 per acre.

For a full list of the Top 100 Growers in Sonoma County, check out the July 2019 issue of Wine Business Monthly.

1. Jackson Family Wines, 3,700 acres
The Jackson family owns 3,700 acres of planted vineyards in Sonoma County, according to the company.

2. E&J Gallo, 3,665 acres
The biggest winery in the world owns 3,665 planted vineyard acres in Sonoma County, according to the company.

3. TIAA/Silverado Investment Management Group, 2,000 acres
TIAA/SIMCO has about 2,000 acres of planted vineyards in Sonoma County, according to the company.

4. Treasury Wine Estates, 1,375 acres
Treasury Wine Estates owns about 1,375 acres of planted vineyards in Sonoma County, according to the company.

5. Rodney Strong Vineyards, 1,369 acres
Rodney Strong owns about 1,369 acres of planted vineyards in Sonoma County, according to the company.

6. Ferrari-Carano Vineyards, 1,285 acres
Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery owns 1,285 planted vineyard acres in Sonoma County, according to the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner’s database.

7. Constellation Brands, 1,150 acres*
Constellation Brands owns about 1,150 acres of planted vineyards in Sonoma County, according to the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner’s database and other public records.

8. Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards, 1,128 acres
Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards owns about 1,128 planted vineyard acres in Sonoma County, according to the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner’s public database.

9. Foley Family Wines, 1,100 acres
The Foley family owns about 1,100 acres of planted vineyards in Sonoma County, according to the company. The vineyards include Roth, Foley Sonoma, Chalk Hill, Sebastiani, and Lancaster Estate.

10. Sangiacomo Family Vineyards, 1,100 acres
Sangiacomo Family Vineyards owns about 1,100 acres of planted vineyards in Sonoma County, according to the company. The family also leases another 500 acres in the county.

Source: Wine Business

The Irish Whiskey Masters 2019 results are in

The resurgent Irish whiskey industry has come on leaps and bounds in recent years.

The figures tell you all you need to know – global sales have increased over 300% in the past decade, according to the Department for International Trade. Distilleries in Northern Ireland were singled out as being an important factor in boosting the category’s growth earlier this year, which the Irish Whiskey Association forecasts will hit 12 million nine-liter cases by 2020.

A few weeks ago a group of expert tasters attended Mayfair, London to taste and rate a selection of Irish Whiskeys. Some of the judges included: Mark Jennings, founder of Drinks Galore, Joe Harper, assistant bars manager at The Savoy hotel, Jamie Matthewson, Waitrose buying manager – wine, Derek Millar, retired whiskey retailer, Amy Hopkins, editor of The Spirits Business magazine and Billy Abbott, Ambassador for The Whisky Exchange.

Reflecting on this year’s tasting:

“The variety of styles was broad. There were a couple of standout, exceptional whiskeys.” Joe Harper

“There were some real differences in terms of character and quality.” Jamie Matthewson

“perfume, violets, Turkish Delight” Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy
Single Pot Still – Ultra Premium

“The worst whiskeys today were still incredibly well made. There was nothing I disliked in this competition and some really interesting examples that are worth seeking out.” Jamie Matthewson

Here is a list of the results for: Blended – Standard; Blended – Premium; Blended – Super Premium; Blended – Ultra Premium; Single Grain – Premium; Single Malt – Standard; Single Malt – Premium; Single Malt – Super Premium; Single Malt – Ultra Premium; Single Pot Still – Premium; Single Pot Still – Super Premium; and Single Pot Still – Ultra Premium:

https://www.thespiritsbusiness.com/2019/08/the-irish-whiskey-masters-2019-results/2/

Source: The Spirits 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

Italy is named the world’s best wine country

Italy has been ranked as the best country in the world for wine lovers in a recent survey by Lastminute.com.

The survey compared thirty wine-producing countries by various criteria with Italy finishing with the highest score. It beat out other counties due to the fact that it offers the most wine tasting experiences; with 993 overall to choose from, and Italy has a total of 21 wine regions.

But how did Italy top France?

In three instances:

1. The number of wine tasting experiences – Italy 993 vs. France 406;
2. Italy has more vineyards open to the public – Italy 33 vs. France 31; and
3. The average price of a bottle of wine is less in Italy – €4.77 vs. €5.73 in France.

For the record, France came second, Spain third, South Africa fourth, Portugal fifth, while Australia came in 15th place, Canada 24th, and the US at 27th. The UK, which is fast making a name for itself for the quality of its sparkling wines, came in 30th place on the list.

https://www.lastminute.com/en/discover/wine-lovers-travel-index