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News - 03.06.11

Entrevista a Evan Goldstein, Master Sommelier de USA

A group of nine Master Sommeliers from the US was invited by Wines of Argentina to visit our country as part of a program aimed at educating Master Sommeliers about the regions of Argentina and their distinguishing qualities through Training Seminars and Tastings by provinces and/or wine regions. They were escorted by Nora Favelukes, PR for WofA in that market. The visitors were: Evan Goldstein, Eric Entrikin, Dana Farner, Brian Donegan, Keith Goldston, Dennis Kelly, Melissa Monosoff, Madeline Triffon and Keving M. Vogt. The scheduled activities included tastings of wines from wineries of the Northern region conducted in Buenos Aires; winery visits to Río Negro and Neuquén; winery visits to Mendoza and participation in small wine fairs; and finally, a tasting in Mendoza of wines from San Juan and La Rioja. WofA talked to Evan Goldstein, one of the Master Sommeliers:

A group of nine Master Sommeliers from the US was invited by Wines of Argentina to visit our country as part of a program aimed at educating Master Sommeliers about the regions of Argentina and their distinguishing qualities through Training Seminars and Tastings by provinces and/or wine regions. They were escorted by Nora Favelukes, PR for WofA in that market. The visitors were: Evan Goldstein, Eric Entrikin, Dana Farner, Brian Donegan, Keith Goldston, Dennis Kelly, Melissa Monosoff, Madeline Triffon and Keving M. Vogt.

The scheduled activities included tastings of wines from wineries of the Northern region conducted in Buenos Aires; winery visits to Río Negro and Neuquén; winery visits to Mendoza and participation in small wine fairs; and finally, a tasting in Mendoza of wines from San Juan and La Rioja.

WofA talked to Evan Goldstein, one of the Master Sommeliers:

How did you like your trip around Argentina?

We came from the United States to visit the country, experience wine, wineries and get to know Argentine people. This is my fourth trip to Argentina, but it’s the first for many of the people in my group. What I’ve seen on this occasion is very interesting. Argentine wines have experienced a dramatic quality acceleration curve. I’ve been traveling to Argentina for many years and I’ve had the chance to taste wines from various wineries, and clearly, there is a lot going on here.

What exactly do you think is going on?

First and foremost, the quality revolution. Wine quality has improved dramatically in places like Neuquén, Salta, Cafayate and Valle de Famatina. It’s really encouraging to see this type of phenomenon. Second, the general interest in the growth of the Argentine wine industry and the large number of investments made in wine and wineries as well as in technology and vineyards, which have also contributed to improving quality. I’ve seen this improvement happen in just 20 months, especially in the case of wines whose previous vintages I have been able to taste. The hospitality of the Argentine industry is also worth mentioning. Every time I’ve come, people’s hospitality has been memorable. Argentina is one of those magic places where not only wines are fantastic, but also its people and gastronomy.

Did any grape variety impress you in a special way on this trip?

From what I’ve experienced in Argentina, nothing surprises me anymore about Argentine wines, as their excellent performance is not new to me. However, it is quite encouraging to see that quality continues to improve. I’ve perceived two changes in regard with Malbec and its blends. Today, issues like wine typicity and specificity are included in labels of wines from Vista Flores, Agrelo or Perdriel. Wines are starting to have a “signature” that reveals not only the vintage of the wine, but also its profile, its winemaking team. This helps us to better understand the character of each region, and get more acquainted with the place the wine comes from. The other change I’ve seen is that people are now beginning to understand that the best wines can be the result of using different Malbec blends, and of sourcing wines from vineyards in different wine regions and different individual top-notch estates. This is also a sign of evolution.

What do you think about other varieties?

Pinot Noir from Patagonia is continuously improving. Vineyards in Neuquén are getting older, and that adds an interesting value and quality to wines. Río Negro is letting grapes speak for themselves and is beginning to understand how their wines express their terroir. Something wonderful is going on in Salta too. The way people are talking about Calingasta and Chubut has called my attention; they are new areas from which we’ve learned a lot. I think this is a natural maturation process that Argentina is going through, which is reflected in the increasingly firm foothold the country is gaining in the international market.

Do you agree with some experts warning that Malbec might become boring to consumers in the near future?

I don’t think people will get bored. I believe that some people think that Malbec is a very popular variety, with a basic character: it’s rich, has a good color, it’s easy to drink, easy to get and enjoy. But not all Malbecs are like this. I think that Argentina is a huge country with a varied production, and it should continue showing consumers the specificity of each region and the distinguishing qualities of each place. If it is well done, people will not get bored. Wine drinkers don’t ever get bored of Bordeaux or Napa Valley. You have to keep on telling Argentina’s story. The country is very well positioned also with Torrontés and Bonarda. The quality of these varieties is not surpassed by any other country. And you should continue showing people other things you do well, like Pinot Noir, a variety that never becomes outdated, and the interesting aspects of Tempranillo and Cabernet Franc.

What are your recommendations for the main players of the industry?

Argentina should keep on telling a consistent story. Don’t sit back or go idle. Don’t “relax and enjoy”. Today, you hold the first place among the South American wine-producing countries, outdoing Chile. It’s very tempting to sit back and enjoy when you’re successful. I think that, on the contrary, you should work hard: be “passionately terrified” of losing the success you’ve achieved.