Argentine wine festival draws 28 wineries to Seoul

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Argentine wine festival draws 28 wineries to Seoul

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From left: Liz Clements from Wines of Argentina, Alicia Falkowski Counselor of the Argentine Embassy, Mario Giordano, general manager of Wines of Argentina, restaurateurs from Bonappetit, and Marcelo Marasco of Argentine winery Bodega Septima sample wine at the Seoul Wine Testing Festival 2011 on Nov. 7 at the Banyan Tree Club & Spa Seoul. By Park Sang-moon


In a ballroom at the Banyan Tree Club & Spa, local wine connoisseurs last Monday swished their glasses and sipped fruity red Malbecs and light, slightly tangy Torrontes in a rare opportunity to taste wines from nearly 30 wineries from Argentina.

The event, the largest gathering of Argentine wineries to date, was put on by Wines of Argentina in conjunction with the Argentine Embassy.

Julien Bonnard, 31, a sommelier representing Dominio Del Plata, remarked on what made Argentine wine so special. “The grapevine cuttings were originally brought from France in the 1500s .?.?. [so] in a sense, Argentine wine is a combination of the old world and new world.”

Wines of Argentina, an organization that brings together over 200 wineries and that accounts for 95 percent of the country’s wine exports, presented 28 wineries from the Mendoza, San Juan and Salta regions at the festival.

Local sommeliers, restaurateurs, wine and food critics, hotel representatives and potential wine importers were able to have individual consultations with wine vendors, partake in a seminar on the Argentine wine industry and even enjoy a tango show.

Marcelo Marasco, export manager of Bodega Septima, said that Argentina’s dry climate and high altitude bode for ripe, sweet fruit. And with less need for pesticides because of its dry atmosphere, unlike in France, he said, “We didn’t even realize it, but Argentine vines are often organic because of our ideal, almost desert-like climate.”

Breathing in a glass of Malbec, Lee Jung-youn, a wine consultant from Oriental Trading & Investment, said, “Chardonnay has its own individuality and is an acquired taste that .?.?. is not really easy to like. But Malbec seems to have a flavor that anyone can enjoy easily.” While Argentine wine is not widely known in Korea, he said that the Argentine wine industry might be “the sleeping giant.”

Argentine wine has been gaining popularity for its high quality and affordable prices, according to Choi Eun-sik, 32, sommelier at New Korean Restaurant. “I already am familiar with Argentine wine, but until now, I have not had an opportunity to taste so many different brands of Argentine wine, especially because Korea is more aware of wine from France and Europe, the Napa Valley and Chile.”

Liz Clements, marketing and communications manager for Wines of Argentina, said, “Asia is one of the most expensive destinations to come to, and the attention focused here with 28 wineries means that the wineries are serious about doing business in Asia.”


By Sarah Kim [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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