Argentina joins New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Canada and the US/California in forming a New World Wine Alliance to boost performance in the Chinese market

Industry body Wines of Argentina has signed an agreement with Shanghai’s Grapea & Co to be part of the alliance aimed at furthering the perception of New World wine in China.

The project, which began in June and will run until October this year, will take the form of a marketing and educational campaign supported by Grapea & Co’s Yang Lu, China’s first Master Sommelier.

The campaign will focus on both online content, transmitted through social media and blogging platforms, as well as wine and sommelier competitions.

The free content will be available on the New World Wine WeChat account and will consist of 18 virtual masterclasses on New World wine regions and 42 videos on topics such as the wine history, viticulture, winemaking, news, cultural traditions and food and wine matching.

These will also be made available on other platforms including Tik Tok, Dianping, and T-Mall.

In addition, the initiative will also feature 22 live broadcasts from key industry figures and popular wine bloggers.

According to the latest data, the scheme has already proved successful. In the first 15 days after the launch in June, the content platforms recorded a total of 68,000 visits and more than 8,000 views of video content.

Commenting on Argentina’s involvement in the project, Maximiliano Hernández Toso, who took over as president of Wines of Argentina earlier this year, said: “Being part of a project of this magnitude reflects the recognition that Argentine wine has gained internationally and the development of its industry.

“I believe that this is a great opportunity for our flagship product to expose its full potential, supporting and accompanying the drive of the collective strength of regions and countries that scale the world stage. We are confident of the impact of continued education and in working with international opinion leaders, such as, in this case, Yang Lu, the only Chinese Master Sommelier in the world.”

It follows news that Argentina was the only country to record an increase in both import volume and value of wine sent to China between January and May this year.

Wines of Argentina appoints Maximiliano Hernández Toso as new president

The Wines of Argentina has recently appointed Maximiliano Hernández Toso as its new president for the next two-year period.

Toso will serve a two-year term as president, supported by Guillermo Barzi, who will continue as acting vice president of the institution.

Tosco was appointed during an Ordinary General Assembly of Wines of Argentina yesterday, held over videoconference.

Hernández Toso is the co-founder and director of WHT Partners, an Argentine venture group that invests in high-end wine and owns Riglos and Huarpe wineries. He has been on Wines of Argentina’s board of directors since 2015, and previously occupying the role of treasurer.

He has an MBA from IDEA and the London Business School and a Master’s in public policy from Carnegie Mellon University, where he studied as a Fulbright fellow. Toso has also taught and directed the wine management programme at ADEN Business School and has also spent time working as a private and independent consultant to entrepreneurs, investors and multi-lateral organizations.

Commenting on his new role, Hernández Toso said: “It is a privilege for me to lead this institution, which I respect and admire for the great work it has done since its inception. We have many challenges ahead, but also great opportunities to innovate and continue bringing Vino Argentino closer to the world and raising the perception of Argentina as a modern winemaking country thanks to the enormous wealth and diversity of our terroirs.”

Vice president Guillermo Barzi, added: “Over the years, Argentina has shown that it is capable of surprising and competing internationally with great wines of the world. The goal is challenging, but we will keep the focus on collaboration agreements and education as a way to reach new audiences.”

Wines of Argentina website:  https://www.winesofargentina.org/en

Geographic Indication Approved for San Pablo, A High-Altitude Mendoza Sub-Region

San Pablo, a sub-region of Mendoza, Argentina has been awarded Geographic Indication status after a four-year campaign led by local producers. San Pablo is located in Uco Valley, and is the northernmost sub-region in Tunuyán, Uco Valley.

It is also one of Mendoza’s extreme regions in terms of altitudes, with vineyards planted between 3,600 ft (1,100m) and 5,600 ft (1,700m) above sea level, with an arid climate and an average of 500mm rainfall per year.

San Pablo is located on the alluvial fan of the Las Tunas River, on the right bank, where the soil has a high pebble content as well as other calcareous materials.

The GI spans the following areas:

East boundary: Provincial Route N°89

North boundary: Las Tunas River

West boundary: dimension lines at 1.700 meters above sea level

South boundary: Villegas Creek up to its intersection with Cuevas Creek

The Salentein winery was the first winery to produce Estate Bottled wines from what today is the GI San Pablo and one of the first in the Uco Valley.

Salentin launched the campaign in collaboration with Bodegas Tapíz, and Familia Zuccardi wineries, together with the Facultad de Agronomía de la Universidad Nacional de Cuyo (Agronomy School of the National University of Cuyo) and the Instituto Nacional de Vitivinicultura (National Institute of Viticulture), in 2016.

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