‘Don’t cry for me Argentina! You organized the trip for 12 of us wine producers with a host of support staff that perhaps outnumbered all of us. You organized for us the wines to reach India and in time for the tasting and celebrating with our countrymen and A few Indians. We could have perhaps done with better attendance at the B2B Tastings and with more importers visiting us, but we are resigned to our fate, as some local Indians seemed to suggest. Perhaps we would do better next time,’ seemed to be the gist of what the importers were telling each other and the organizers in Spanish at the end of the evening.
The 12- producers included the well known Dominio del Plata, owned by Susana Balbo who was no. 30 in the List of Top 50 Most Powerful Women of Wine compiled by the Drinks Business last December. Jose Manual Ortega Gil-Fournier O. Fournier, owner of the internationally recognized winery in Argentina, besides Spain and Chile is an international wine celebrity. I had met him before in Hong Kong in 2011 when he presented a paper on ‘How to set up your winery’ at the WineFuture Conference, was also present with his wines. Besides wines, he also has a unique plan he says, is the only one in the world; one can buy as low as 1 hA of vineyard for $150,000 and become a gentleman wine producer with his company providing all the services and even contracting to buy the grapes if you like (for details contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org ). A spin off business of Catena Zapata, started by one brother of the 4-sbling owners in 2000 was also showcasing good value-for- money wines.
For reasons difficult to ascertain, none of the Top Ten (or perhaps Top Twenty) importers was present. This is rather shameful, considering there were some very interesting world-recognized wines with the owners proudly showcasing them with passion. Nor were many from the hospitality industry- they have now reached a situation where they no longer need to taste so many wines; the event offered an excellent opportunity to taste over 50 wines from 12 producers. Susana Balbo was carrying 7 labels including her well known Brioso and the Nosotros which was the top Malbec of the Show and retails for around $120 in the US retail.Normally, even an existing importer ought to taste the current vintages of their competitors to learn about the harvest.
Perhaps, as the Sommelier Magandeep Singh noticed, the target group was not even properly invited. ‘The World Malbec Day celebrations happened in India in spite of the botched up efforts of the embassy and the organizers who managed to forget to invite the relevant people,’ say Magan who admitted that he had gate-crashed the event in the hope of tasting some Argentine wines since he had not been formally invited; he didn’t even seem to know about the earlier tasting from 4-6 pm.
The producers tried to make sure that the right people got to taste their wines. A noteworthy collection meant to be distributed through the embassies is a generic label designed for Malbec and other wines. Wineries are requested to donate a certain amount of wines which are bottled under this generic label. They are not for sale but only to be served at the official embassy functions. This follows the National Decree by the President Mrs. Christina Fernandes de Kirchner who declared wine as a National Drink of Argentina in 2010 and emphasized that it is a basic item of Argentine identity.
<Government of India can take a leaf out of the Argentine official book and at least accept wine as a basic food product and authorize the Ministry of Food Processing Industry to take steps so that our embassies serve these wines at local diplomatic functions to promote Brand India>
Used to kissing hundreds of babies during elections, Governor Francisco Perez obliged the producers by jumping from table to table and getting clicked with a borrowed glass of red wine, by a bevy of Argentine shutterbugs. Perhaps for the folks back home or perhaps for the sake of an Embassy san Ambassador, he did look very majestic. The embassy would perhaps be gloating over the success of a grand event for several weeks. Incidentally, the embassy deserves a big pat for organizing the logistics and making wines available to the Oberoi Hotel in time- not an easy task by any standards.
The Malbec Celebrations Day was the time to show the Latin vigour, passion for food, drinks, dance and life -not normally seen at the same time. Candela Berbel –Reina Nacional de la Vendimia for 2013 was one of the attractions. The National Wine Queen had come specially to celebrate the World Malbec Day in India and China. Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia is the annual Grape Harvest Festival that takes place in the city of Mendoza during the first week of March and attracts a large number of tourists too. Each of the 18 departments in Mendoza Province prepare for the festival from different provinces, as Candela informed delWine. Hundreds of dancers and performers like the tango dancers we saw at the Oberoi Delhi, culminating in the selection of a Reina Nacional de la Vendimia
While the event was very interesting and a lot of fun, it may not be easy to quantify or ascertain if it had any positive impact on the image makeover for Malbec or Argentine wines which played a second fiddle at the Event. If at all, the general impression that the Argentine wines are high on alcohol and sometimes oak was, if at all, re-confirmed during the tastings. Most of the wines were quite fruity and fresh and the sweet front attack and soft tannins make them compatible with Indian palate, especially the vegetarians. It was nice to learn that Argentina has decided to fall in line with the world trends and not use the heavy bottles weighing about 2 kg and costing a lot of carbon foot prints.
Once again, Torrontes came out as the number one grape for white wines. Wines were very perfumed fruity but dry with less than 2-3 gm sugar and sufficiently suitable as aperitif to deserve attention of the serious minded importers.
Let’s hope we see the producers and dancers back next year.
April 17, 2013
It was ironic that no responsible person could give a list of all the 12 producers in the program. But the organizers were quite apologetic and volunteered to send the list after the delegation goes back to Argentina after the China visit. As a practice, delWine publishes the list of such participants with the contact details so that importers-not only in India but 39 other countries (excluding Argentina) might be able to correspond directly with the producers even at a later date. If and when the list is received, it would be added as an addendum – editor
WE WISH ALL OUR READERS A HAPPY MALBEC DAY. HAVE A GLASS OF MALBEC