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05 March 2007

Déjà-Vu Wine Oscars across the Andes

The Argentinean wine establishment has mirrored their Chilean counterparts over the other side of the Andes with their first vinous awards ceremony held in Mendoza a couple of weeks ago. And as sure as night follows day, Wines of Chile had their fourth annual bash in Santiago a month before that. What was a first for Santiago this year, was the all American judging team - in the past mostly Brits - including Bob Paulinski MW, Mary Ewing-Mulligan MW, Joshua Greene (Wine & Spirits mag), critic Jay Miller and the Wine Enthusiast's Michael Schachner. Over in Mendoza, the tasters included many established names from the UK - in fact the same 'old' ones who've previously done the judging thing in Chile (ooh, jealousy and bitching will get you nowhere!) - such as Oz Clarke, Robert Joseph, Peter Richards, Jancis Robinson MW and Beverley Blanning MW, as well as winemakers from Argentina Roberto de la Mota (Bodegas Mendel) and Daniel Pi (Trapiche) among others.
Anyway, enough of the banter; let's move on to the decorated wines. As for Argentina, "interestingly eight out of the nine Trophy winners will retail in the UK for under £10" commented James Forbes, UK Director of Wines of Argentina. They are as follows:
Sparkling wine - Familia Zuccardi, Alma 4 Chardonnay Roble 2003
Red blend - Bodega Norton, Norton Privada 2003
Tempranillo - Tittarelli, Finca El Retiro Reserva Especial 2004
Cabernet Sauvignon - Bodegas Santa Ana, La Mascota 2005
Malbec - Fabre Montmayou, Fabre Montmayou Gran Reserva 2005
Sauvignon Blanc - Pulenta Estate, La Flor de Pulenta Estate 2006
Torrontés - Bodega Felix Lavaque, Quara 2006
White blend - Bodega Luigi Bosca, Gala 3 Viognier 2006
Syrah - Don Domenico, Finca Don Domenico de Huanacache 2006.

You might be surprised to see a top sparkling wine from Argentina, although Domaine Chandon, for example, has also been making good fizz there since the 60s. I haven't tried the Zuccardi wine (but hope to at some point), yet that producer doesn't usually disappoint. Apart from them, there are a few other old favourite names here such as Norton, Fabre Montmayou and Luigi Bosca.
All the medal results are available on www.winesofargentina.org.
Back to Chile, best screenplay and director go to:
Sauvignon Blanc & 'best in show' - Viña Casas del Bosque Reserve 2006
Cabernet Sauvignon - Viña Hacienda Araucano, Reserva 2005
Carmenère - Viña Odfjell, Orzada 2004
Syrah - Viña Porta, Winemaker Reserve 2005
Merlot - Viña Concha y Toro, Marques de Casa Concha 2005
Chardonnay - Viña Nuevo Mundo, Tacón Alto 2006
Other red variety - Viña Millaman, barrel aged Zinfandel 2005
Red blend - Viña Estampa, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenère/Petit Verdot 2005
Best value white (this is beginning to sound like the International Wine Challenge) - Viña Miguel Torres, Santa Digna Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Best value red - Viña MontGras, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Rosé - Viña Chocalan 2006.

Similarly, see www.winesofchile.org for full listing. I'm pleased to see
Casas del Bosque up there, as I've always thought they make one of Chile's best Sauvignons. Also worthy of comment is the mix of familiar names, who are obviously now showing their experience and pedigree, and new estates (to me at least). I look forward to tasting these wines in the near future. My feature on the 2006 winners is included on a mega Chile page (see "more wine words" on the right).

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