The 2008 edition of the Women Choose International Wine and Spirits Contest was successfully carried out. In this 7th edition, the best wines from 24 were awarded, including submissions from Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Israel, Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, Hungary and France.
These wines were tasted by 50 judges, all women, over half of them Argentinian. The next edition will take place in 2010. Viña Las Perdices and Bodega La Rural were the major winners.
The competition’s venue was the Premium Tower Suites Hotel in Mendoza. This edition was supported by several wine organisms and had new features such as an honor guest from Israel, Marion Codner.
"Wineries that wanted to participate submitted wines in different price ranges, from those below $6 to those above $500 a bottle. Each one competed with its peers so now consumers may choose any type of wine to purchase for the season’s celebrations," Raúl Castellani, the contest’s organizer, explained.
He added that "the way the competition was conducted sought to compare wines of the same price to quality ratio in the market. This is a fair system, and allows wines to be appreciated according to price ranges thus offering wines for all tastes and budgets. Women have understood this message in the past 4 years and this has been truly beneficial for the contest as great wines are judged without hurting their brands and simple every-day wines are brought to light within their own category."
Double Gold Medals
The major Argentinian winners were products in categories like Prestige, Great Prestige and Outstanding, which were granted Double Gold Medals. One of them was Tinamú Red 2005 of Viña Las Perdices, which received the highest score. This wine had won the same award in the Mediterranean International Wine Challenge – Terravino 2008.
On the same level, with an average of 93 to 96 points, there were other Argentinian wines, including: Enzo Bianchi Gran Cru 2003 and Bianchi Particular Malbec 2006 of Valentín Bianchi; Antología XXII 2006 and Rutini Vino Dulce Encabezado de Malbec 2005 of Bodega La Rural SA; Urraca Familia Langley Reserva 2005 and Urraca Primera Reserva 2005 of Viñedos Urraca SA; Luigi Bosca Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 of Leoncio Arizu SA; Nicolás Granata Malbec 2003 of Carmine Granata SA; Finca La Delfina 1949 Malbec 2007 of Bodegas Rubino; and Cantine Mirta Bertolino Marsala Vino Licoroso of Domaine Le Billoud.
In the categories of Outstanding, Great Prestige and Prestige wines, Argentinian labels reigned over wines from France, the US, Spain, Italy, Australia, Israel, Germany and Greece.
Moreover, the following wines (in alphabetical order) received Gold Medals for their scores above 89 points: Arroba Carlos Balmaceda Malbec 2005 of Carlos Balmaceda; Don Bosco Vino Especial Licoroso of Bodega Escuela Don Bosco; Rutini Malbec 2007 and Rutini Chardonnay 2007 of Bodega La Rural SA; Sin Fin Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 of Bodega Sin Fin, Tamari Extra Brut of Bodega Tamari AS, Afincado Tardío Petit Mansen 2004 of Bodega Terrazas de los Andes; Bistolfi Rossi Edición Especial Cabernet 2006 and Sauvignon Roble 2006 of Bodega Valle del Atuel; Vinorum Malbec Premium 2005 and Vinorum Malbec Premium 2006 of Bodega Vinorum, Vulliez-Sermet Syrah 2008 and Vulliez-Sermet Tannat 2008 of Bodega Vulliez Sermet, Etchart Cafayate Cosecha Tardía 2007 and Etchart Cafayate Torrontés 2008 of Bodegas Etchart of PR Argentina SA, Mil Piedras Viognier 2008 of Colle di Boasi SA ; Familia Anaya Viejas Cepas Premium Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 of Familia Anaya; Familia Barbini Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 of Familia Barbini; Extramuros Reserva Malbec 2006 and Extramuros Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 of Familia Otero Ramos, Don Enrique Fallardi Cabernet Sauvignon – Malbec 2003 and Don Enrique Fallardi Malbec 2004 of Fapes SCA, Fina Ñ Syrah 2006 of Freixenet Argentina SA ; FG Malbec Roble 2004 of Giaquinta Hnos SRL; Solar del Atuel Malbec 2005 of Higinio Figueroa e Hijos SACIFIA, Fincas Mellado López Malbec 2008 of José Mellado López; Luigi Bosca Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2008 and Luigi Bosca Reserva Malbec 2006 of Leoncio Arizu SA; Famiglia Mosso 1909 Malbec Oak 2006 of Piamonte Mendoza SA, Bodega Privada Torrontés and Uvita Vino Tinto de PRB AS; Familia Porretta Reserva Bonarda Roble 2005 of Staphyle SA ;Familia Bianchi Sauvignon Blanc 2008 of Valentín Bianchi SA; Las Perdices Viognier Tardío 2008 of Viña Las Perdices, Urraca Chardonnay 2007 of Viñedos Urraca SA, Bocabella Malbec 2007 of Viñedos y Bodegas Garavaglia; Calle Funes Tardío 2007 of Bodegas y Viñedos Ruta 15 SA.
A large number of Argentinian wines and wineries were also awarded silver medals in their own category according to their price to quality ratio.
The major winners
The most awarded Argentinian winery was Bodega La Rural, which earned two double gold medals and two gold medals, which made it the best serried of the 2008 edition of Women Choose. Paula Witkowski, winemaker of Bodega La Rural, said that this contest is highly valued by the winery as it gains more and more prestige in the wine world. "I participated in the contest and saw a lot of professionalism at work, I tasted excellent wines in the event."
She added that "the prizes and scores we received were really good and it is very rewarding for the winery. The female audience for Rutini Wines is highly appreciated, both in terms of consumers and for the winery and the first winemaker, Mariano Di Paola."
The winery was awarded double gold medals for Antología XXII 2006 and Rutini Vino Dulce Encabezado de Malbec 2005, while Rutini Malbec 2007 and Rutini Chardonnay 2007 earned gold medals. Witkowski explained that 99% of these wines is destined to the domestic market. Only a small percentage of the Malbec 2005 is exported to Latin America.
The two wines with double gold medals are sold at 25 to 35 dollars, while the other two cost between 50 and 90 pesos.
Viña Las Perdices was another major winner, whose Las Perdices Tinamú 2005 received the highest score and was granted a double gold medal. The company’s winemaker, Juan Carlos Muñoz, explained that it is a four-variety blend: 60% Malbec, 25% Cabernet, 10% Petit Verdot and 5% Tannat. It was aged 24 months in French (70%) and American (30%) oak barrels.
Moreover, he highlighted that "women are gaining more market and they are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about wine, they like learning about varieties, flavors, etc. I believe that as time goes by, women are becoming a potential consumer segment and wineries are already noticing this."
With regard to the awarded wine, Muñoz commented that "this is a full-bodied, structured wine. It is not related to what women commonly choose, as they prefer softer wines, but I think that because of the knowledge they are acquiring they are turning towards other styles that are non-aggressive yet structured and easy to drink, such as Las Perdices Tinamú 2005."
Finally, he remarked that "this is the winery’s icon wine. Only 2000 bottles are produced per year and mostly sold in the US, at 75 dollars."