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Evan Goldstein

California wine, Argentina’s biggest competitor

May 15, 2012 by Laura Saieg | in Latest news, News

These are some of the conclusions that Evan Goldstein, Master Sommelier, arrived at in his last visit to Argentina in which he tasted wines from several regions of the country. In conversation with WineSur, he highlights Argentina’s opportunities and disadvantages in the United States.

Last week, Wines of Argentina brought Evan Goldstein, Master Sommelier, President and Chief Education Officer at Full Circle Wine Solutions Inc. The aim of his visit was to taste wines from several wine regions of Argentina.

Moreover, within the framework of conferences hold by Sociedad Argentina del Vino, Goldstein was invited by Wines of Argentina as special guest to its Series of International Talks.

In this interview, he shared with WineSur his view on Argentine wines in the American market.

What do you think about low alcohol wines?

Wines of low alcohol of great maturity and structure can easily be made in Argentina based on the combination of high altitude, growing season and the ability of fruit to mature correctly. Wines here can be very ripe and alcohol can be much more moderate than in California, Australia or in other new world areas where they need to let grapes hang longer and become physically riper in order to achieve physiological ripeness.

Over the last few years, it seems there are more and more wines of higher alcohol being made, not just in Argentina but certainly all over the world. If a wine is balanced and the alcohol does not stand out that could be very good. Often times, however, you will find that wines of high alcohol are not always balanced in terms of their style and they are also a bit over concentrated, over extracted which makes them less appealing and potentially less capable of hold their balance. It is a challenge. I am not one of those people who say that high-alcohol wines are bad; to the contrary, I’ve had many high alcohol content wines that are delicious, extremely well-balanced and very well made.

Do you think wine consumers in the US prefer this type of wine?

Honestly, most American consumers tend to prefer the wines that are more generous; that have fuller body, more volume, greater concentration and subsequently higher alcohol. When you get to the most sophisticated consumer, it splits into two sides. There is one side that follows the fashion and sees that many high-alcohol wines get very good score and so they buy these wines as much because they like them but also to be perceived as being sophisticated and very cool. The other-side consumers prefer their wines with lower alcohol.

What is your opinion of the wines you have tasted these days in Argentina?

I’m a big supporter of Argentine wine. I think one of the great benefits is the country’s diversity. Although you are well-known for Malbec, I’m also very happy with the increasing quality you are able to make with Torrontes and Bonarda. I think they are unique. Needless to say, that you make some lovely Chardonnays, Pinot Grigios and Tempranillos. The second attribute of Argentine wines is the price-value relationship. You always get more for your dollar than what you paid for.

I think Malbec deserves to be mentioned separately. Aside from the fact that is simply a delicious style of wine, Malbec suits the modern day palate which looks for wines of rich color, deep concentration, beautiful fruit, extraordinary floral characters and tannin that are sweet and wild. Even within a varietal like Malbec you have incredible diversity. I’m a big fan of Argentina and always will be.

In your opinion, what should Argentina do to continue growing in the US market?

There are a number of things you should do. Number one is to continue doing what you are doing. Argentine wines are ‘en fuego’ at the moment, they are selling very well. Number two is not to become lazy or complacent. Number three is to play to your diversity. Don’t look at North America as purely a Malbec market; look for an opportunity for some of those other unique wines that I discussed earlier. You will find tremendous success immediately in smaller niche markets. Malbec blends have a wonderful opportunity because they are very good and they provide a bridge to talk about Malbec, which the variety that American are comfortable with, and at the same time talk about other grapes and open the door for them. The biggest single obstacle for producers is distribution, having an understanding of that is going to be very important.

Which are the wines that compete with Argentine wines in the US?

Americans drink a lot of California wine. It represents 9 out of 10 bottles of wine made and 7 bottles of every 10 sold in USA. So within that 33% market share left for imported wines, everybody is pretty much fighting for the same share of mouth. I would say that old world countries, Spain, Italy and France, fight with each other and Argentine wine compete with Chile, Australia and South Africa.  However, old world countries are putting out new world wines in terms of style and packaging.

Translation: Rocío Acosta

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