“This is, probably, the largest tasting of Argentine wines to have ever been held in the United Kingdom”, read the introductory note from the renowned British wine expert and journalist Tim Atkin for the showcasing of the fifth edition of his annual report entitled “the top 100 Argentine wines” at the Ambassador’s Residence.
The event hosted three master classes with the support of Wines of Argentina, who showcased their selection to representatives of some of London’s most illustrious wine cellars, restaurant sommeliers, distributors and industry press.
Having visited Argentina on more than 10 occasions, Atkin, an influential figure who writes for The World of Fine Wine and Imbibe, has become a connaisseur of Argentine wines, tracking their evolution over recent decades. For the last four years, he has published his observations in an annual report. The stand-out headline from the latest edition — for which he tasted and rated over 1,300 wines from various wine regions across the country — is that all the wines listed in his selection boast ratings over 95 points, a fact that firmly places Argentina among the world’s elite club of wine-producing countries.
With the presence of 68 Argentine wineries, the day spread over three master classes in which tastings were offered on 87 of the 100 labels. The first master class was exclusively focused on “White Wines”, the second on “Iconic Wines” and the last, dubbed “Nueva Argentina”, presented the country’s latest generation of wines. Atkin praised each of Argentina’s grapes in turn. Speaking of Malbec, which he sees as an emblematic and first-rate wine in the British market, he declared “the world loves it” and “we are now seeing Malbecs of an increasingly high quality”. Praising the terroirs, he said that they stretched further off the borders of Mendoza. This Wine Master was particularly excited about those wines from the provinces of Salta and Río Negro. “Argentina is really pushing the limits now: its blends are getting better and better, its sparkling wines have improved, the semillón has seen a revival”, he said, addressing buyers from Northern Europe, Italy and Spain.
For Lilyane Weston, from the International Federation of Wine Writers (California) the wine list included some pleasant surprises. “Who would have expected to find a chardonnay among these wines? Not a single one of the whites I tested could be told apart from those you’d expect to find in Burgundy”, she said.
The event is one of the more significant run by the Argentine Embassy in the UK to promote Argentina’s national brand to key industry stakeholders. The country, ranked 11th, has been establishing an ever greater name for itself in the British market: in 2016, 28 million bottles were sold to the tune of 80 million dollars, and this year a further 22% growth is expected.
As the master classes drew to a close, Ambassador Carlos Sersale hosted an evening reception, which was attended by 100 guests.
List of the year’s winners, selected by Tim Atkins:
• Red: 2014 Bodega Teho Malbec Tomal Vineyard, La Consulta.
• White: 2014 Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard White Bones Chardonnay, Valle de Uco.
• Rosé: 2016 Alfredo Roca Nuri Malbec Rosado, San Rafael.
• Sparkling: Bodega Vistalba Progenie I Extra Brut NV, Valley.
• Young wine maker of the year: Santiago Mayorga.
• Wine Making Legend: Jorge Riccite, Bodega Norton.
• Wine maker of the year: Daniel Pi, Bodega Trapiche.