As every year, Wines of Argentina and the Argentine Wine Association (COVIAR) organize Argentina Wine Awards, the country’s most important wine contest. In this 7th edition, the bet will be on the “new generation of consumers”. For this reason, the entity chose the 12 most influential international journalist, bloggers, sommeliers and winemakers in this market. Likewise, the panel will also made up of six well-known nationwide winemakers. All of them, young professionals averaging 40 years old, represent the new generation of the wine world. This contest will consist of five days of blind tasting at the Diplomatic hotel, in Mendoza. The tastings will be carried out on February 18 – 22.
This panel will include Joe Roberts, founder of 1WineDude.com. This site has been recognized for providing mainly wine lovers with intermediate knowledge. In 2012, Roberts was in 14th place in the IntoWine.com’s ranking of the 100 most influential people in the US wine sector. In an interview with WineSur, he gives his opinion about Argentine wines and the future of wine gurus in the world industry.
What is your opinion about Argentine wines?
Generally speaking, I like the overall quality that comes out of Argentina across almost all of the price points. Having said that, the bargains are becoming harder to find, and more and more of the $10 Argentine wines are tasting like they are $10 wines. So while there is still very good quality for price, there’s also a very real danger, I think, of the market for Malbec on the low end overstretching similar to what bargain Shiraz producers did in Australia (and what bargain Moscato producers are doing now in Italy).
Besides Malbec, what are the Argentine varieties that appeal to you most?
Certainly Torrontés, but I think there is a lot of potential in Tempranillo there based on what I’ve tasted.
Do you think that Argentine wines are adapted to the new generation of consumers?
Yes, and No. Yes, in that they often offer very good quality for relatively low prices; no, in that I think stylistically a good number of them fall prey to making wines that have oak profiles that appeal more to older generations of U.S. consumers. That’s not a bad thing now, as those folks are doing most of the buying, but it will become a challenge in the future.
Do you think the world wine consumption will focus on wines with less alcohol and less oak?
The answer is generally yes for the savvier of the younger consumers. They are “cutting their teeth” on wines higher in acid, fresher, and not as overt or oaky.
What is the way of communicating with the new generation?
The best way to reach the new generation of wine consumers is to listen to them and let them tell you what they want. Treating them respectfully as adults is key. They are formulating their tastes, and are not shy about telling you what those are; all you need do is ask them and listen.
Why do you think you are among the most influential people in the wine world?
I’d argue that I’m not one of the most influential in terms of buying power. The people who do the most buying in the U.S. – distributors, retailers – don’t pay much attention to me, yet. I think a healthy number of consumers do, as do people within the wine industry in the U.S., but we should be careful not confuse that kind of mindshare and influence with bottom line sales numbers.
I can really only say that I’ve built up my influence one person at a time, every day, never taking interactions for granted and treating people with respect; they are smart, they can decide for themselves if I am above-board, honest, and worthy of their time.
Every time that I sit down to write something about wine, I try to give it my all and respect the people who have given me their time and attention, I feel indebted to them and I want to do right by them. If there’s any “secret” then it’s not really a secret at all – it is hard work and real, honest engagement. I suppose in some ways I am living proof that you can establish a brand literally from nothing based on those principles and have it be somewhat successful.
Do you think wine gurus like Robert Parker will disappear?
There’s no doubt in my mind that we will not see another dominant critic like Parker – the wine world has already become too democratized for that. If you look at what Parker himself has said in interviews (including one that he did for 1WineDude.com!) he has basically said the same thing. Those days are over; critical assessment is still valuable, but the crowd is determining who they want to be the new critics, and none of them will command the type of influence built by Parker because we will likely not see those types of circumstances combine into a “perfect storm” again.
In your opinion, what will be the social networks that will dominate the scene in 2013?
Currently, it’s Facebook and Twitter. But Pinterest is also not to be ignored. I will say, though, that I often disagree with some high profile friends of mine in terms of how these tools ought to be used. In my view, it’s best to pick one or two of these platforms that feel the most natural to you, and interact and engage with people about wine on those platforms to the best of your ability, rather than diluting your efforts across too many of those networks. For me, this has been twitter – I feel quite at home there. In my case, I play a bit in Facebook and Pinterest, but I don’t even have a brand / fan page for 1WineDude.com on Facebook. I know that probably sounds suicidal to the marketers, but I’m not as comfortable on FB as I am on twitter, and so trying to force a fan page before I am ready just doesn’t sit right with my view that the interactions ought to be genuine and honest.