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