John Stimp­fig

‘There are even more South Amer­i­can play­ers wait­ing in the wings’

Decanter - - CONTENT - John Stimp­fig is con­tent direc­tor of De­can­ter

This monTh we fo­cus on the vi­nous de­lights of south Amer­ica. only very re­cently, this ef­fec­tively meant Chile and Ar­gentina. But as you’ll have no doubt no­ticed in this and re­cent is­sues, the rapidly im­prov­ing wines of Brazil, Uruguay and Bolivia are also gain­ing greater dis­tri­bu­tion, trac­tion and rel­e­vance in in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.

De­servedly so: it should come as no great sur­prise. in the last few years, in­vest­ment, ex­per­tise, ex­per­i­men­ta­tion and qual­ity have in­creased in all three coun­tries. Fol­low­ing on from that, so too have the num­ber of medal-win­ning wines be­ing en­tered in the De­can­ter world wine Awards from all three na­tions. Last year, Brazil ex­celled by bag­ging three Golds for the first time. But in 2018, Uruguay came top of the chas­ing pack with a hugely im­pres­sive medal strike-rate of 68% – the same, in fact, as Chile and Ar­gentina. Bolivia also col­lected its first three sil­vers.

And now there are yet more south Amer­i­can play­ers ei­ther wait­ing in the wings or ten­ta­tively emerg­ing onto the world wine stage. This year saw first-time sub­mis­sions to DwwA from the likes of Colom­bia, ecuador and Peru. Right now, Peru is the one to watch in terms of po­ten­tial, as it has more than 11,000ha of vines across five dif­fer­ent wine re­gions, some at se­ri­ously high al­ti­tudes.

mean­while, in Ar­gentina and Chile the ex­plo­ration of com­bi­na­tions of new ter­roirs, styles, blends and va­ri­eties con­tin­ues at break­neck speed – as the con­tents of this is­sue yet again demon­strate. how­ever, i some­times won­der whether this quest for con­stant in­no­va­tion and the next new wine trend isn’t some­thing of a dou­ble-edged sword in south Amer­ica – and in ‘new world’ coun­tries in gen­eral. Af­ter all, what is wrong with re­fin­ing and im­prov­ing a wine from a great ter­roir, once the lat­ter has been firmly es­tab­lished. isn’t that what they do in Bur­gundy and Bordeaux – and have done for cen­turies?

so i sym­pa­thise with Laura Catena’s in­tense frus­tra­tion when she is in­vari­ably asked, what comes af­ter mal­bec in Ar­gentina? ‘This ques­tion re­ally both­ers me,’ she says. ‘why do we need to come up with some­thing new when mal­bec is so uniquely well suited to this coun­try and per­forms so well here. For in­stance, would you ask Au­bert de Vil­laine at Do­maine de la Ro­manée-Conti what comes af­ter Pinot noir?’ The ques­tion, of course, is en­tirely rhetor­i­cal.

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