Argentina needs to “focus on whites”

12th March, 2012 by Lucy Shaw

Argentina needs to start focusing more on its white wines, according to one of the country’s top producers.

Alberto Arizu

Alberto Arizu of Bodega Luigi Bosca believes there is a real opportunity for high-end white blends in Argentina, and Chardonnay from the Uco Valley.

Speaking at a lunch hosted by Bancroft Wines at Gaucho in Piccadilly, Arizu told db: “We’ve already shown the world that Argentina can do reds, now it’s time to prove our worth with our whites.

“Chardonnay is the second most important white grape in Argentina and we’re discovering new areas to plant it, like Lujan de Cuyo. Argentinian Chardonnay has a unique character to Chile and other New World examples,” he said.

Arizu cited the bodega’s Gala 3, a premium blend of Chardonnay, Viognier and Riesling, as an example of what Argentina can do outside Torrontes.

“We’re one of the few bodegas to be working on premium white blends, and are reducing the amount of time our Chardonnays stay in oak.”

He pinpointed Chardonnay from the Uco Valley as having improved “tremendously” in the past few years, producing some of the best examples of the grape. “The quality has gone through the roof. You get more freshness at the higher altitude,” he said.

Though he also sees a chance for Torrontés to quench a global thirst for freshness.

“We need to ride the wave of the global demand for fresh, aromatic, dry whites – Torrontés is ideally placed to satisfy this thirst,” he said.

Arizu also spoke of the importance of seeking out and shouting about Argentina’s best micro regions for Malbec.

“Malbec differs greatly depending on where it’s planted. Those from the Uco Valley are floral and fresh, the Vistalba and Lujan de Cuyo examples are red fruited, while Malbecs from Las Compuertas are full bodied, spicy and complex.

“We need to communicate these terroir differences to consumers so they understand the diversity of styles of Malbec. We’re not shouting about it enough,” he asserted.

Malbec aside, Arizu is keen to focus on pushing Pinot Noir and Syrah in Argentina, both of which have huge potential but remain largely undiscovered. “Our challenge will be to develop these grapes in the most suitable terroirs, like Maipú and San Juan for Pinot,” he said.

In terms of the Asian market, Arizu described it as “where Brazil was 20 years ago,” but spoke of the “great potential” Argentinian wine has in China with the new generation.

“They are better educated about wine and more open-minded to trying new things. The best way to promote our wines will be with the quality/price message,” he said.

“A Wines of Argentina office opened in Beijing last year, which will be hugely important in spreading the word about our wines in Asia. More Argentinian wine brands need to have a presence in China in order to open the category up,” he admitted.

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