“Kravitz still has a knack for finding good wines at great prices” – Robert Parker, Parker on Wine, BusinessWeek, 8/20 & 27, 2007
Hand Picked Selections in Argentina
Argentina is the second largest country of South America, in both size and population (after Brazil). With only a small indigenous population when the Spanish arrived, it is the most European country of South America. Blessed with abundant natural resources, it is a wealthy country that has been plagued by political instability and mismanagement. An economic collapse in 2001 was followed by a strong recovery. The economy today is reasonably strong, although inflation is a problem, along with political uncertainty.
Despite this, Argentina is far closer to First World than Third World status. The old and prosperous wine industry is strong and very confident of its place in the global economy. This industry is enormous. Production is fifth in the world after Italy, France, Spain and the U.S. The Argentines also drink a lot of wine. Total consumption is sixth in the world after the higher producing countries and Germany. Per capita, each Argentine drinks 40 liters a year, 5 times more than each American and about 2/3 as much as each Frenchman and Italian. There are 1700 producers, but about 15 large bodegas dominate the export business. These producers have the money and technology to produce completely clean, modern wines. However they can be rather expensive and/or too ‘international' - bland commodities lacking character. Smaller bodegas are often of more interest, but can have different problems. Some have old equipment making unsound wines, others make wines too far out of the mainstream. A look at vineyard acreage indicates the latter problem. The top five varietals, in order of acreage, are Cereza, Pedro Jimenez, Malbec, Torrontes and Bonarda. Cabernet Sauvignon is 6th.
It is the job of HPS, here and everywhere, to walk the line between clean, bland international wines and idiosyncratic, maybe too quirky, local wines. Fortunately the large number of bodegas makes it possible to find those offering the best common ground clean, inexpensive wines with plenty of flavor and character. We get to choose from a small but increasing number of ‘boutique' wineries, catering to a large and reasonably prosperous local middle class. Many of these boutiques are prospering and increasing the supply of reasonably priced wines of character and individuality, to the benefit of consumers in Argentina and worldwide.