Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES August 17th: Getting Beyond Beef in Argentina

Getting Beyond Beef in Argentina

By David Lawrason with notes from Michael Godel

In the August 17 Argentina feature VINTAGES buyers got it right with an intriguing, diverse and quality group of wines. I have scored most 90 points or better.  The selection, although always maddeningly skimpy, is a well focused snapshot of what’s new and coming in Argentina – particularly beyond the Mendoza heartland.

But Vintages magazine editors missed the memo and defaulted to the overdone narrative of beef to sell the wines.

Yes, there is lots on the hoof in Argentina, and deep cultural traditions around BBQ-ing, bonfire-ing and otherwise searing, smoking and lambasting beef. There is the “asado” which Vintages kind of explains; but it doesn’t sound all that different from an extended family BBQ with good Canadian beef in Burlington. Once, in a famous Buenos Aires steak house I was served one cut of beef as an appetizer, then a bigger one as an entrée. That was twenty years ago.

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In our emerging “beyond beef” world, this kind of messaging is perhaps not what Argentina needs to be promoting going forward.  The problem with the all-beef message – aside from alienating the growing legion of vegans and those who know that cattle-produced methane is a huge contributor to greenhouse gases – is that it pigeon-holes Argentine wines.

What I really like about this release was trying a promising pinot from Argentina’s Atlantic seaboard, terrific malbecs from the upper reaches of Salta (love this place for red wines), and a decent malbec from Patagonia too.  Plus non-malbec varietals like cabernet franc and bonarda.  And a really good cabernet sauvignon!

While John and Sara have been away on summer breaks, Michael and I have highlighted some of the better buys below. Plus picks from other parts of the world.

There were many wines on this release however that scored average 85s to 87s on my account. VINTAGES tends not to put its best foot forward in the dog days of August, while its core demographic is at the cottage drinking G&Ts on the dock. I have noticed this over the last 25 years or so.

Argentina Feature

Cinco Sentidos Reserva Torrontés 2017, Mendoza  ($16.95)
David Lawrason – A tasty Torrontes with lifted, confected aromas of lemon-lime, black licorice and spearmint. It is fleshy, fairly soft yet dry with almost creamy texture. Try well chilled with ceviche or grilled veg involving fennel.…


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And that’s a wrap for this release. Wishing all the best to the Femmes du Vin gathering August 18 in Toronto as some of the nation’s leading women of wine get together to taste and debate.

I also want to mention two, very ambitious educational efforts around Italian that are landing in Toronto in September. Both tend to be trade-oriented and would require huge time commitments. One is called Indigena with Italian wine expert Ian D’Agata featuring in-depth four-day regional session on Piedmont Sept 16 through 19; then a regional session on Monferrato and Marche Sept 25 & 26.  Email [email protected]. The other called Native Grape Odyssey is a five-day exploration of Italian wine by the folks who run VinItaly. It is also happening Sept 15 through 19th. https://nativegrapeodyssey.com/

Enjoy the remaining days of summer!

David Lawrason
VP of Wine

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Lawrason’s Take
Michael’s Mix

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