With the presence of over 350 attendees, the eighth edition of the “Successful Wines and Styles” seminar was held at Hotel Intercontinental in Mendoza. The first part of this seminar counted on a panel comprising six expert judges of the Argentina Wine Awards, who presented a successful wine in their market. Moreover, these panelists spoke about each of their markets and the position of Argentine wines there.
The second part of the event had the participation of other six international judges who spoke about Argentina’s wines and regions in the world scene.
The journalists of the judging panel at #AWA2014 were: Tommy Lam (Singapore), Bruce Schoenfeld, (United States), Suzanne Barelli (Brazil), Colu Henry (United States), Patricio Tapia (Chile), Nicholas Siu (Hong Kong), DJ Kearney (Canada), Andreas Larsson (Sweden), Edwin Soon (Singapore), Jorge Lucky (Brazil), Demei Li (China) y Steven Spurrier (United Kingdom).
The first panel
The first one to speak was sommelier Tommy Lam, who presented an Australian Riesling, “Polish Hill”. His decision was based on comparing this variety with Argentine Torrontés. Lam was optimistic about the growth Torrontés may remain enjoying in the Asian market. The expert explained that this Argentine white variety goes very well with Indian, Chinese, Indonesian cuisine, because as it is greasy and oily and it needs refreshing and sweet wines.
Other of the panelist was Suzana Barelli from Brazil, who presented a Spanish Tempranillo. Besides, Barelli talked about imported wines in Brazil, “It is a small-sized market that has suffered falls last year. In this period, imported wines dropped by 8%, whereas Brazilian wines have grown, especially table and sparkling wines”. According to the journalist, the reason is the safeguard Brazilian government applied to national wines against imported ones.
The following speaker was Patricio Tapia, wine journalist from Chile, who started his talk by saying that winemakers and marketing managers have understood how consolidate the brand “Malbec”. In addition, he highlighted the “risky” style of some Argentine wines: “ they are wines with identity and journalists love novelty,” commented Tapia.
From United States, it was the turn of Bruce Schoenfeld, editor and journalists of diverse publications. The expert chose a Chardonnay from Washington and emphasized that Argentina should promote its wines with a greater stress on regions and considered that beyond Malbec and other single varietal wines, the country should focus on blends.
On the other hand, Nicholas Siu was the representative of Hong Kong. The wine the professional brought as a successful wine in his market was Chateau Mont Perat, from Bordeaux. It is a product that became famous upon the fact that its label is based on a comic, which was perfectly translated into Spanish. “I think that the creativity, together with the quality and sustainability of this product were the perfect equation to attract consumers”.
The second panel
In the second half of the seminar, panelists spoke about their own markets.
Firstly, DJ Kearney, wine critic in Canada, maintained that people in her market are leaning towards Malbec from different regions of Argentina, “you have earned our trust and we are ready to taste more expensive wines, from USD 16 to USD 25.”
Finally, the expert gave producers a piece of advice: to make wines with distinction, to put the region on the label and vineyard’s information on the back label, to offer wines with a story behind. Moreover, she also urged them not to associate the brand with a commodity, and to adopt lighter weight bottles and screw-caps.
Afterwards, Edwin Soon spoke about his market, Singapore. About this destination, he spotlighted: “the income of consumers is high. They are educated and travel a lot. The highest consumption is concentrated in the population from 25 to 50 years old, with a high purchasing power, so they like buying luxury wines.
As regards the trends of this market, he added that people are gradually drinking more sparkling and white wines at an average price of USD 26.
The following panelist, Jorge Lucki, journalist from Brazil, said that the market is concentrated in the center-south region where population is European, but then he added: “don’t forget the rest of Brazil that is growing really fast”. The expert stressed that 70% of the wines consumed are imported and those who drink them will not change to national wines, with the exception for sparklers, where the local market is still the leader. Moreover, he pointed out that consumers do not pay more than R$ 80-90 for a bottle.
Then, Demei Li, considered China’s best winemaker, expressed: “the Chinese will change from white spirits to wine, and Argentina should be ready for this change.”
In relation to the influential factors when choosing a wine, the professional said that the Chinese firstly pay attention to the price, as well as the packaging though they do not understand the language. Besides, they spend more when they know the region the wine comes from.
Besides, Li made some recommendation for selling wines in China: “to count on an interpreter to establish a communication with the distributor; to register your name and Chinese trademark; to make further promotion; to take into account the information on the labels; to use social media; the association of wine with football and tango will enable to reach consumers easily; not to speak about techniques, aromas, etc, because those who start consuming are not interested in those things.”
From Sweden, it was the turn of Andreas Larsson, renowned chef and sommelier. About his market, he mentioned that consumption is growing, particularly of imported sparklers and novelties.
Concerning sales channels, Larsson pointed out that wine clubs have grown considerably. “Nowadays, there are about 40 of them, run by specialized importers.”
Lastly, the seminar ended with the lecture by Steven Spurrier, well-known journalist of Decanter. He highlighted that British consumers are still discovering Argentina. As regards varietal wines, he made great stress on the promising future of Argentina’s Cabernet Franc, as well as its Pinot Noir, which he considered the best in South America.
Tags: Andreas Larsson, Argentina Wine Awards, Bruce Schoenfeld, Demei Li, DJ Kearney, Edwin Soon, Jorge Lucki, Nicholas Siu, Patricio Tapia, Seminar on Successful Wines & Styles, Steven Spurrier, Suzana Barelli, Tommy Lam