Usr
Password
Forgot your password?

News - 17.10.11

"Malbec Must Open the Door to Other Varietals and Blends"

During the first days of October, Wines of Argentina welcomed Irish journalist Raymond Blake, who visited Buenos Aires – where he tasted wines from Patagonia and the Northern Region –, San Rafael and Mendoza. His trip was part of a program developed by the organization for foreign journalists to deepen their knowledge about Argentinian wines through first-hand experience in wine tastings, visits and interviews.

During the first days of October, Wines of Argentina welcomed Irish journalist Raymond Blake, who visited Buenos Aires – where he tasted wines from Patagonia and the Northern Region –, San Rafael and Mendoza. His trip was part of a program developed by the organization for foreign journalists to deepen their knowledge about Argentinian wines through first-hand experience in wine tastings, visits and interviews.

 

Raymond Blake is a Trinity College Dublin graduate who worked as a school teacher in Clongowes Wood College for six years, until June 2000. He developed his career as a freelance writer on food and wine, an activity on which he has worked full-time for the past 11 years. He is now working as a wine editor in the renowned Food & Wine magazine, the first publication of its kind in Ireland. He is a content advisor and is in charge of organizing monthly blind tastings. He has also contributed to dozens of publications on wine, food, traveling and lifestyle. In the last few years he has been to Australia, South Africa, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Loire Valley, La Rioja, Rodano Valley, California, Burgundy, Champagne, Chile, Germany, Galicia, Austria, Jerez de la Frontera, Alsace and Priorat. Besides working for Food & Wine, Raymond also writes for other Irish magazines, and has contributed to Decanter, Harpers, The Drinks Business, Off Licence News and The World of Fine Wine in the UK. He is also involved in planning wine tours, together with a travel agent; he acts as a judge in competitions to improve wine shops’ quality in Ireland; and works as a tutor in conferences and lectures for private and corporate customers.

 

“I visited Mendoza 12 years ago and now I’ve noticed a few remarkable changes,” he said. “I arranged that visit to Argentina on my own and now everything has been coordinated by Wines of Argentina in an excellent way. The change has been great. I was in Buenos Aires and I got to taste wines from Patagonia and the Northern Region, which I think are among the best in the world; they’ve made a wonderful and positive impression on me. I thought the food variety was also superb. I had very little knowledge about wines and now I’m leaving with so much more of it because of all the wineries I’ve been to. I’ve noticed that the industry is much more organized and the schedule has been very interesting, very smartly arranged,” stated Blake.

 

The expert commented to the winemakers he met that if they intend to continue penetrating new markets, they should make sure to offer other varietals that are made in the country besides Malbec, such as Syrah, Bonarda or Cabernet Sauvignon. “People have a very fixed impression of Argentina, attached solely to Malbec. Of course, Malbec will open new doors, but I don’t think you should leave aside the rest of your production,” he said.

 

Another issue addressed by Blake was that of blends: “Varietals are ever present in the winemakers’ minds and are an important part of the New World wine industry, but I think blends are overall more complete and are the most appropriate choice given their sophistication, which is something winemakers should not lose track of. A wine made of 80% Malbec and 20% Syrah is preferable, market-wise. Maybe it will be harder to define a varietal when it comes to devising a campaign, but people will be definitely more interested in drinking a blend than a simple varietal wine,” Blake noted.

 

With respect to the changes he has noticed in the industry for the past few years, the journalist said: “I have seen evolution in winemaking practices and policies in every level. Argentina has been able to position itself firmly in today's international wine scene by being in tune with what’s going on in the world. However, I think Argentinian wines have a high alcohol content and you want to be careful about that and understand that other wine producers in other regions are starting to think about lowering it down a little. Some may be too strong for daily consumption. That’s one of the issues that must be handled with care.”

 

He concluded: “In Ireland, Argentinian wine is not so widespread, and I believe Irish people think of a large number of images when they hear the word ‘Argentina’ that are not only wine-related. There’s a strong connection with tango, rugby, beef, I think those are ways to stand out among other wine regions. Since we don’t make our own wine, we buy it from all over the world. There are many players in our market, such as Australia, Chile and South Africa, so Argentina must play to its strength and use its variety of options in order to differentiate itself from other countries. It should try to find a point of difference without clinging to Malbec only, exploring and finding those links that connect it to the country’s message.”