2023 Argentinian Wine Judging – deliberations from our judges

Wine news

Fri 7 Jul 2023

By Mila Gorchakova

This week the IWSC headed to Mendoza to judge Argentinian wines in situ, in partnership with Wines of Argentina. Following the tasting, we caught up with our international judges to hear which styles and flights impressed them the most.

“The quality of all fights was high and we were largely impressed by the diversity of styles” said our judges who tasted 430 entries over 2 days.

The judging team, overseen by Master of Wine Dirceu Vianna Junior included top buyers, sommeliers, wine consultants and communicators from the UK, US and Argentina itself.

The majority of flights were, of course, dominated by Malbec, Argentina’s most acclaimed red grape. Our judges tasted a variety of styles of Malbec from different parts of Mendoza, as well as from Patagonia. “Out of the Malbec flights, the Gualtallary one was the most successful, with 2 gold medals and a few silver and bronze medals awarded,” revealed the judges. “The best wines here were layered with savoury spice and balanced powerful fruit with appetising chalky textures.” The judges were also impressed by Malbecs from Lujan de Cuyo, with a strong set of silvers underlining the new direction towards freshness in these wines.

Beyond Malbec, the judges were delighted to taste a few other grape varieties that found their second home in Argentina, such as Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, as well as the indigenous South-American grape, Torrontés.

“We tasted some very impressive Pinot Noir wines, which underlines the real potential of the variety in the right place - in this case, Uco Valley,” said the judges. “We were also impressed by the consistency of the Cabernet Sauvignon that we judged. Argentinian Cabernet has a bright future, not least for its accessibility.”

Another grape variety that our judges found highly promising in the local terroirs was Cabernet Franc. The quality of this flight was consistent with a few classical expressions of the grape, said our judges. One of the Cabernet Franc wines from Uco Valley earned a strong gold medal, the judges describing it as an “intense, brooding wine with a bold personality; exhibiting a real sense of place and demanding another glass”.

The judges also found real potential in the red blends, in particular, the Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated ones, as well as Malbec/Cabernet Franc ones.

As for the whites, our experts praised the freshness and the vibrancy of the Sauvignon Blanc flight, awarding several silver and bronze medals. Speaking of the future of the white grapes in Argentina, our experts highlighted Chardonnay as a grape with “enormous potential” in local terroirs, which is confirmed by several bronze and silver medals, as well as 1 gold for a Chardonnay of “impressive fruit intensity with crisp acidity, refreshing and zesty with a subtle saline streak”.

The judges spoke highly of the rosé and sparkling wines tasted: “There were some pretty rosé wines that would give Provence a run for its money, as well as a handful of interesting traditional method sparklings, which have some potential.”

With over 380 medals awarded – full medal results to be announced on 10 July – it was an impressive performance of Argentinian wines with a few surprises, according to our judges, who said: “We are left with a sense of perfume and positivity for the future of Argentinian wines!”