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Richard Siddle does Argentina

Published:  12 November, 2010

Harpers Wine & Spirit editor Richard Siddle is in the clutches of Wines of Argentina...


Days two, three and four in Argentina after an aborted mission on Sunday night due to the might of the Zonda wind keeping us in Santiago for an extra night.


Thanks to Lindsay Talas and buying team at Thierry's for helping take us bewildered and clueless in Santiago airport to safety of downtown hotel and for watering and feeding us. Good job they happened to be sitting the row behind on cancelled flight.


Now we are more than acclimatised to  Mendoza and in the clutches of Wines of Argentina we have more than made up for lost time.


Whirlwind of winery visits, introductions, business cards and Malbec. Blown away by friendliness and enthusiam of everyone we have met all of whom have helped turn my Argentina knowledge bank from "getting by" to "budding expert" in space of 72 hours. But with such gorgeous wines it is easy (ish) to keep going through the relentless pace.


Being introduced to the variations and vagaries of Malbec and ability of winemakers to make such different wines even when on each others' doorsteps. For someone who drinks so much Argentine wine at home i have really enjoyed discovering the differences clearly evident in cool climate regions and wines of Uco Valley, Turpagato and Salta versus Mendoza valley.


Lovely zippy fresh wines with great balanced acidity ideal in my humble opinion for UK consumers. Just wish there were more of them in the UK.


Highlight has to be trip out to Uco valley. Not just for the wine but the company of the Andes on the other side of the road spread out across the horizon with its snow capped mountains glinting in the late spring sun.


Also the experience of driving along the highways out of Mendoza like in a convoy from Mad Max with every shape and condition of battered old cars, vans and lorries that look like the rust and holes are actually keeping them together. Passing lorries laden down with garlic freshly picked from the fields and horse drawn carts and guys on ponies.


This is a country that is clearly twinned with the land and whilst the hi tech wineries and skills of the winemakers are all well and good it is the sight of the farmers, the workers in clapped out buses and the harsh,  rural way of life that is particularly grounding.


Back in the world of wine and tastings have enjoyed the potential of the whites ss well as reds. Cool climate Uco viognier is certainly going on my Christmas wish list along with the delicately matured, less perfumed almost Vinho Verde style fresh, citrus  Torrontes.


Interesting to see so many varieties cropping up here and it is often the carefully crafted blends that are the stars of the tastings.


Day long feastings on empanadas has foolishly not left much room for big steaks in the evening.


But lost my cherry, as it were, in the company of the Ever Ready Wines of Argentina Andrew Maidment at the wonderful 1884 restaurant in grounds of the Catena/Rothschild winery  in Mendoza. Complete with outside grill, oven and asado.


Not seen a pup squeak of Mendoza city itself but have a feeling I will be coming back...


Expectations high for Bordeaux's 2010 vintage

Published:  28 September, 2010

Geoffrey Dean writes for The Times and is currently studying for WSET exams.


Wines in the Pres, July 10-11, 2010

Published:  13 July, 2010

What have the national wine critics had to say this week? Find out with our round up of Wines in the Press for July 10, 11.


Finca Flichman becomes UK No1 branded Argentine wine

Published:  16 June, 2010

Argentine export monitor, Caucasia Wine Thinking, has released figures showing that Finca Flichman is the UK's number one branded Argentine wine in 2010.


Viñalba Reserva Malbec - Touriga Nacional on sale now

Published:  04 June, 2010

Viñalba Reserva Malbec - Touriga Nacional, the latest addition to Buckingham Schenk's trophy-winning Argentine brand Viñalba, has secured a major UK listing with Majestic Wine.


Parker says parts of Bordeaux 09 are the best he has ever tasted

Published:  28 April, 2010

Robert Parker has revealed that that some wines of the wines in the 2009 Bordeaux vintage are the best he has ever tasted with 21 having the capacity to go on and score a perfect 100 points.


Argentina Wine Awards' winners announced

Published:  18 March, 2010

A record-breaking number of entries in the Argentina Wine Awards has resulted in 30 gold medal and 18 trophies which have been selected by an international panel of wine experts at the judging session in Mendoza last week.


My Taste: Tesco

Published:  04 November, 2009

Editor Richard Siddle assesses the Tesco autumn tasting.


Jury's out on the miracle vintage

Published:  04 November, 2009

Everyone and everything is pointing to a near perfect Bordeaux harvest, but as Richard Siddle discovers it is too early to say what effect that will have on UK prices for the 2009 vintage or eventual quality and styles of the wines


Naked Wines spends $100,000 at Wines of Argentina tasting

Published:  21 September, 2009

Naked Wines has pledged to spend $100,000 with Argentine producers following last week's Wines of Argentina tasting at Lord's Cricket Ground.


Argento launches in USA

Published:  09 June, 2009

The Argentine wine company Argento are about to launch their brand from Mendoza into the US through Lion Nathan USA.


Critics May May 22-24

Published:  26 May, 2009

What the press have to say over the May bank holiday weekend.



Victoria Moore finds that some tastebuds are a little harder to please after lunching with sales rep Dave who claimed to have, "virtually no sense of smell or taste."

So she prescribed wines with masses of texture and body to, "punch through those dull tastebuds and give his tongue something to think about."

The first wine she recommended was an Aussie Shiraz that, "has brightness, is overt and all but growls."

Mount Langi Ghiran Billi Billi Shiraz 2004 (£9.99 or £6.99 when you buy three at Wine Rack).




The relevance of Bordeaux's system of selling its top wines as futures, or en primeur, in the spring after the vintage, has been called into question by the "latest shenanigans," over the 2008 vintage, reports Anthony Rose.


Every spring, the top Bordeaux châteaux release their prices to give consumers a chance to buy early at a relatively affordable prices which are based on how they see the quality of their wine that year, of the vintage as a whole and what the market will wear.


But no one was expecting great shakes from 2008 not even the Bordelais, Rose reports. Until Robert Parker pronounced 2008: "a notch below 2005, but better than any other vintage of the last decade except 2000".


All of a sudden prices of wines rated highly by Parker went through the roof, says Rose. With the first growth châteaux Lafite Rothschild trading at £3,200 per case after releasing at £1,900 and Latour, released at £1,590, up to £2,500.


This means real wine lovers will be priced out of the market if the reaction is to yield to the temptation not to drop prices.


For wine lovers in urgent need of a case of fine red Bordeaux, here's a few names the best critics agree fulfil the essential pre-requisite of good quality and reasonable pricing: La Lagune, Calon-Ségur, Léoville Barton, Langoa-Barton, Pichon Lalande, Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Le Petit Cheval.


Financial Times


Jancis Robinson says that her a visit to New Zealand, earlier this year, she met the most extraordinary wine producer.


Hiro Kusuda, admits that to pursue his dream he and his young family had to subsist for eight years without any income at all, she says. "Even today, the total production of Kusuda Wines in Martinborough is but a few hundred cases of Syrah and Pinot Noir a year."


Bob Campbell, a wine writer and Master of Wine, sent Robinson a report of Kusuda's 2009 harvest, saying he was witness to the most rigorous grape selection process he had ever seen . "Each berry was inspected for any flaw and removed if not perfect."


Here, clearly, is Japanese perfectionism as applied to one of the world's most pragmatic wine industries. And the resulting wines are truly exceptional, says Robinson.


Just before the 2006 vintage Kusuda managed to buy a small vineyard of his own, 1.2 hectares -3 acres. "I tasted two wines made in the 2006, 2007 and 2008 vintages and thought that not only were the 2006s unusually fine but both wines seemed to get better with each vintage," says Robinson.


"I'm not proud that I had no income for so long," Kusuda told Robinson. "But as the whole family sat round silently watching me taste the full range of his wines from perfectly polished Riedel glasses, I could feel their pride radiating," she says.




Go on, celebrate the start of English wine week with a crisp, delicate elderflower and hedgerow-scented English wine, says Jane MacQuitty.


With the first new vineyards planted in London since the Middle Ages, one on wasteland behind King's Cross station and the other at Forty Hall Farm in Enfield, English wines are no longer a joke, she says.


Bulldog British enthusiasm, has seen plantings up by 50 per cent in the past five years, to more than 1,000ha, and our production is set to double in the next five years, reports MacQuitty.


Until May 31 there are lots of fun functions. Visit uk for details, and contact English Wine Producers on 01536 772264 for a free map of Vineyards of England and Wales.



Everything is coming up rosé, says Jonathan Ray. As rosé wines continue to soar while those of red and white wine fall.


"And where rosé used to be infra dig, it's now de rigueur," he explains.

According to market researchers AC Nielsen, sales are up 17.7 per cent on the year, with the total rosé category now representing 11.5 per cent of the British off-trade by volume and worth some £533 million.


Value is starting to outstrip volume, which suggests that we're all finally prepared to pay more as the wines improve. Thank God for that, he says, since more than half the pink wines in this country still come from California, home of that dire vinous bubblegum, ''Blush'' Zinfandel.




The second part of Natasha Hughes' marathon tasting round Argentina

Published:  16 April, 2009

Argentina, 14-22 March 2009

I was lucky enough to be invited to spend a week in Argentina recently. The focus of the trip was on Rio Negro and Nequen in Patagonia and Argentina's heartland, Mendoza.


Castel expands with new estate

Published:  24 February, 2009

France's largest wine group has continued its expansion with the acquisition of an 18th century estate, it has emerged.


Wines in the Press, December 20-21

Published:  03 January, 2009

Jancis gets busy with the fizzy, Jane finds unsold bargains, Anthony highlights independents in the Independent and Joanna experiments with a magic wand


Can you tango like that?!

Published:  18 November, 2008

Best chat up line heard in 4 gruelling days doing a stint at The World Travel Market, pushing wines of Argentina to the travel trade. Can't accuse moi of not pulling her weight.


A Harpers hello from down under!

Published:  04 November, 2008

Harpers' features editor Rebecca Gibb is in Mildura, judging at the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show this week. In between tasting more than 600 wines, Rebecca will be filling us in on her trip in a series of blogs. Here's blog number one...


Las Moras steps up marketing campaign

Published:  21 October, 2008

Argentinian wine brand Finca Las Moras is stepping up its UK marketing activity following major new listings for its wines.


Blog special from the winners of the Harpers/ Wines of Argentina competition - Part 3

Published:  16 October, 2008

In the latest installment of out blog special from the winners of the Harpers/ Wines of Argentina Steak Your Claim competition, wine business entrepreneur Dominic Crolla tells us why he's dreaming of steak. Over the next few days, each of our five winners are enjoying a tour of each of the main wine regions and visiting key producers to give them a taste of what Argentina can offer the UK, and sending back missives of their travels. Here's Dominic's blog...


Wines in the Press: Malbec, Muscadet and wines in the desert

Published:  14 October, 2008

This week Jane MacQuitty assesses the future of Oddbins, Victoria Moore goes back to her roots and Jonny Beardsall takes a trip to the Namib desert to meet a remarkable winemaker. Meanwhile Joanna Simon is surprised by the following on new website