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Jay Miller: “I am a big fan of Torrontés”

Robert Parker’s wine palate in South America performed the third tasting of “Wines of Argentina” in New York. This time, Jay Miller tasted around 300 wines from more than 95 wineries. Through this article readers may find out Miller’s impression and opinion about these wines.

Jay Miller is not only one of the most important wine journalists but also Robert Parker’s agent in South America for The Wine Advocate. From 23rd to 25th June, the third tasting of “Wines of Argentina” was carried out in New York. This time, 95 wineries participated and 300 wines were tasted.

The results of the wines tasted in New York will be published in two parts. First, in August edition “Best Buy’s” as well as the Argentinian selected wines will be published. Then, in December 2009 edition, The Wine Advocate will publish Jay Miller’s review, which will include the wines tasted in his trip to Argentina in February, the tasting carried out on 23rd June in New York, as well as any other information about Argentinian wines in 2009.

It is important to bear in mind that The Wine Advocate is the most influential publication in the US market. Its articles and comments are referents in both the on-trade and off-trade markets.

Nora Favelukes, the Public Relations Representative of Wines of Argentina in United States, pointed out the importance of this tasting. “If the score granted by Miller is good, a wine may be sold and a winery may create a good image. This wine specialist, with just one word, has a lot of influence to place or withdraw a certain wine in the business retail. All chain links are waiting for his review.”

Furthermore, Favelukes explained the tasting format. “In the consulate we have two rooms, one for tastings and the `prep room´ for wine preparation before being tasted. In the tasting room there are two opposite tables. In one of them, Miller is sat alone just with glasses, water, a spit bucket, a book of technical sheets and a folder with the wines list. While in the opposite table, there are at least 50 wines that Miller, three assistants and I will taste in a period of more than three hours.”

Finally, Favelukes added: “Once the attendees opened the bottles, I am the first to taste the wines in order to eliminate the corked ones (in that case the second bottle is opened as a backup). I offer them the wines to be tasted (three or four at the same time depending on the winery or varietal), the wine is poured and the bottle is placed behind the glasses. Jay tastes the wines, takes notes and tells us when he finishes. Then, attendees clear glasses and bottles, place new glasses and I pour wine again.”

Miller’s opinion

Miller pointed out that the wines he tasted were generally good but the Argentinian ones he tried in February were not quite at the same level than the ones he tasted in June in New York. However, this gave him a more balanced look at the entire playing field.

As regards the varieties that called his attention, Miller highlighted that he is a big fan of Torrontés and he tasted some excellent ones, especially during his trip to Cafayate. Besides, he added that Argentina also makes outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon but this is less of a story since Argentina is mainly known by its great Malbec.

Finally, he emphasized that even though the quality of Argentinian wines is definitely improving, Argentinian winemakers should consider that now that the country is gaining popularity, it will be important not to flood the US market with inferior juice.