A dreary Boston Wednesday is always made better by a mid-day wine tasting. Hosted by warm and welcoming people in a stellar location for tasting wine (or any other event), the Wines of Argentina: Meet the Experts Roadshow, held last week at the JFK Presidential Library, was definitely one of the most well organized and informative wine events I have attended. I was lucky to be invited as part of Red, White, Boston, and one perk to having a slowing-down work schedule is the ability to attend such trade events. Now to get me some Marketing work in the wine industry, and we will be all set.
Let’s start with the location of the event, shall we?
I had a meeting in downtown Boston, so I took the T back to JFK UMass, and despite the pouring rain, decided to forego the UMass shuttle and walked to the library. Being out in the rain by the sea actually lifts my spirits, and it definitely worked. It felt like Ireland. I snapped a shot of one of the few remaining island roses from the summer, bright against a green, vibrant background. The sea, at times was so cloaked by fog that it was almost invisible. I thought these trees looked a little eerie.
Even the dead leaves in the grass looked pretty. I love the UMass Boston campus; what a beautiful, serene location!
When it was time for the event to get started, I checked in and met up with Cathy from Red, White, Boston and then took a look around the room which was split into two parts, one for the sit-down tasting program and another for the reception. The room was actually the same room that Senator Kennedy’s public wake was held in, and I won’t lie, being there again made me a little emotional. The organizers of the event also found the venue to be very special, bringing Argentine wine and culture to a place built after a President that was beloved by so many and a family that has been so important in American history.
Making the event even more special was the lineup of wines available for tasting during the reception and the gorgeous display of food. All sorts of cheeses, vegetables, sauces, breads, and even a pan of tortilla was displayed in the center of the reception, with items like beef empanadas being passed around the room. I grabbed a quick triangle of the tortilla and a taste of sparkling wine before heading off with Cathy and a group of wine writers for a very special interview.
We had the very exciting opportunity of sitting down in a small group with two of the special guests of the day, Tomas Hughes (left), Agricultural Manager at Bodegas Nieto Senetiner and Edgardo Del Popolo, winemaking and viticulture director at Doña Paula. They spoke about what makes Malbec special, how it came to Argentina in the 1850’s from Cahors, France and for a long time was blended in with many other reds. Malbec adapted well to the soils and altitude of Argentina, and it was when growers started to notice this that they started to work with it and realize that not only could it be grown in various conditions, but it would also be made in various styles that are flexible and food friendly, pairing well with anything from an Argentine steak or beef empanada (their favorite) to an Italian pasta or even a meaty, fatty fish. Our time with Mr. Hughes and Mr. Del Popolo was short, but they were so interesting and engaging and happy to speak with all of us.
When it was time for the program to begin, I sat down with some other Red White Tasting Crew members to learn more about Malbec as well as to taste Malbec and other wines from Argentina.
Each short information session included a tasting of 2-3 wines. You’ll notice red spit cups; it was the middle of the day, and this was a trade event! I did not spit the sparkling wine I had at the reception or the Weinert Malbec from 1977, but I did spit all the others. Sniffle.
The tasting started with a session on Malbec: When the Planets Aligned. This session shared with us more information on Malbec and how it came to be popular as well as how Argentine winemakers are being careful not to make the same mistake Australia made with Shiraz. Shiraz (Syrah) became very popular, and Australia started to grow it everywhere, producing a glut of wine that was not all good (hello, Yellow Tail), and that really cheapened the appeal of the variety. In the opposite way, Argentina is focusing on the sense of place, where they grow Malbec, and some of the nuances between the flavors and noses of the wines grown at different altitudes and different types of soil. The second session, The DNA of Malbec expanded on information on the different styles as well as the different growing areas. In the first two sessions we tasted all Malbec:
Mendel Malbec 2008
Doña Paula Seleccion De Bodega Malbec 2007
Colome Malbec 2009
Nieto Senetiner Terroir Blend Malbec 2009
NQN Universo Malbec 2009
I didn’t take great tasting notes, but the Doña Paula was one of my favorites, with nice, spicy notes in addition to the dark fruit. I definitely left this event with purple teeth!
The third session was Malbec for Collectors and was done via a video of winemaker Robert de la Mota. The tasting, from a first bottling of the 1977 Weinert Malbec, was done at the end of the event.
We also had the opportunity to learn about other wines being made in Argentina and tasted the following:
Michel Torino Don David Torrontes 2011 (Beautiful white, perfect for Indian food, I am in love with this wine!)
Altos Las Hormigas Colonia Las Liebres Bonarda 2009 (very dry with lots of stewed dark fruit flavors)
Susana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (rich, chocolate-y Cab, absolutely gorgeous)
The event wrapped up with Sandy Block, Legal Seafoods VP of Beverage Operations (and one of my wine instructors), talking about Argentina’s emerging classics, icon wines that will reach a world class stature.
It was such an educational way to spend an afternoon, and I left with two thoughts.
1) I definitely need to taste more Malbec and to pay attention to the differences in wines grown in different parts of Argentina as well as different parts of the world.
2) I need to visit Argentina ASAP. It is at the very top of my travel list; now I just need the time and money to make it happen!
That was a long post! Whew. . .
How was your weekend?