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WINES OF ARGENTINA – THE EVOLUTION OF ARGENTINA (July 29, 2015)

Words+Images:  Sumona Roy

“Esta es tu casa” or “Make yourself at home” was the ambience created by Guillermo Barzi and his team at the Wines of Argentina Jam held at Snell Hall, St. James Cathedral Centre.  

Over 20 wineries participated, showcasing three or more selections displaying the depth and pedigree of world-class Argentinian winemaking.

Argentinian Wines were represented from every region of the beautiful and historic country – from the North Valley to Patagonia; the Andes Foothills in the West; to the city of Buenos Aires in the East.  Samplings of renowned Malbecs were bountiful in numbers, as well as the Torrontes, Bonardas, and the Cabernet Francs.

The Profile Wine Group representing the Dominio Del Plata brand offered a tasting of five different wines. Of note, the inspirational representative Susana Balbo, who as a woman faced many challenging social conventions during her rise to become a professional in the wine industry.

In 1981 she received her degree in oenology as “Best Graduate”, becoming the first woman winemaker of Argentina. In 2012, she was recognized by Drinks Business Magazine as one of the most influential women in the world of wine. In 2015, the same publication gave recognition as “The Woman of the Year” (Woman of the Year 2015 by The Drinks Business) — solidifying her reputation, skill and knowledge as one of the most influential winemakers.

Her Crios Torrontes was very pleasing with hints of pear, white flower and citrus fruit.  On the palate, it had a beautiful structure and acidity along with enticing fruit.  You can pair it by itself, with Asian food, smoked meats, mild to medium-strong cheese and seafood.  A very versatile wine indeed.

The Benmarco Malbec 2013 was a favourite. This was released in March 2015 under Vintages #65760. Hand-picked from vineyards in the Andean foothills this top-notch Malbec showed aromas and flavours of cherry, currants and blackberry accented by vanilla and coffee notes. The producer suggests pairing this wine with wild boar or rib-eye steak. Personally, it’s delicious for sipping on its own (or with any hearty meat dish) in the author’s humble opinion.

Majestic Wine Cellars represented Casa Bianchi. Their Famiglia Bianchi Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 will be available in stores starting on October 31st under Vintages #677567 for $16.95  Even though Malbec is the king of Argentina, if you like rich, full wines with dark fruit flavours, then you might want to try the fruit-forward Cabernet Sauvignons from Argentina. The Cabs from Argentina are very similar to the Malbecs.  This particular wine can be paired with beef, lamb, poultry or spicy food.

Eurovintage represented Pascual Toso.  Their Barrancas Toso 2013 was a 60% Malbec and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon red blend — a bold sense of toasted oak with a bit of vanilla character.  The taste of raspberry does come out and lingers in the aftertaste.  It had a medium to full body and soft tannins.

The overall quality and craftsmanship of Argentinean wine was in full display at this event. One of the highlights was the Familia Zuccardi brand (represented by Dionysus Wine and Spirits).  The Zuccardi Finca Piedra Infinita Malbec 2012 (with an unnoticeable high alcohol content of 15%) had a velvety smoothness and finish which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Wine expert, Michael Schachner describes it as the following,

“…fruit-driven, minerally Malbec hailing from the Altamira section of Mendoza’s Uco Valley. Blueberry, cassis and stony aromas feed into a deep, pure palate with plenty to offer. Flavours of cassis, blackberry, peppercorn and exotic spices finish with moderate tannins and flavours of fig and black pepper. Drink through 2019.”

Other great wines showcased included: Alta Vista Wines, Amaru High Vineyards, Don David and Disierto.

Plenty of wine and great company for tis extraordinary event, included a Master Class available for wine connoisseurs earlier and a barbecue event in the evening with music provided by Bellosound.

One of the attendees was Chantile Vines. She started VinesPlay which is a Toronto-based event marketing firm which creates events for a new generation of wine drinkers. Launched in 2014, they have a full calendar of events to engage old wine enthusiast and new wine enthusiast alike. Like any wine enthusiast, her reason for attending was to learn more about the Argentinian wines to better service her group.

I also had the pleasure of meeting and conversing with Karen Martin of Tre Amici.  The team of Tre Amici Imports scours the world for the best winemakers available. They take pride in unearthing: fabulous; small production; handcrafted; and technically superb vineyards that are unique. They are a boutique agency in the GTA that specializes in “focusing on small batch, beautiful gems of the wine world from indigenous varietals to exceptional spirits.”

Reflecting after three hour, one can only come away with a greater appreciation of the breadth, diversity and great passion of Argentinean Wine culture. The event was well-executed and organized. No matter what degree of wine knowledge (novice or advanced) — the heart and passion of Argentina made you feel welcomed on a beautiful, sunny  afternoon.

For more information about Argentinian wines and other references made in this article, please visit the following links:

www.winesofargentina.org

www.dominiodelplata.com.ar

www.profilewinegroup.com

http://www.casabianchi.com.ar/en/inicio

www.majecticwine.ca

www.pascualroso.com

www.eurovintage.com

www.familiazuccardi.com

www.dionysuswines.ca

www.bodegadeldesierto.com

www.elesteco.com

www.treamiciwines.com

www.vinesplay.com

www.bellosound.com

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