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Argentinean Wine Interview

Interview with Kevin O’Donnell Food and Beverage Manager NECI on Main

on Friday February 17, 2012

Me: What is your view of Argentinean wines?

Kevin:  Argentinean wines are a great value and I don’t just mean for the cost. They are priced right but both Argentina and Chile have some of the oldest pre phylloxera vines in the world. This gives them not only a bit of an advantage in the wine world but also lets them focus on the quality of the wines the put out. I also really like Malbec.

Me: What is an Argentinean wine you would suggest to people?

Kevin: Well since I like Malbec that would be a good wine to start out with for people who haven’t tried any wines from Argentina.

Me: Do you have much experience personal or professional, with Argentinean wines?

Kevin: Besides Malbec I know that they make a few other types of wine like Cabernets, but when I think of Argentina I think of Malbec, and If I am going to drink a Melbec I always go right for the Argentina section of the store I go to.

Me:  Why do you go to right to that section?

Kevin: Because I think that Argentinean Malbec is a better wine for the price of a similarly priced Malbec from the US, France, or Australia. Also considering that France normally doesn’t make a stand alone Malbec and use it more as a blend with the other wines they do make.

Me: What do you mean by this?

Kevin: I mean that Malbec is one of the five Bordeaux grapes but the French don’t normally make Melbec as a stand alone wine like Argentina does and I think that this is where Argentina shines because they are taking a grape that was traditionally a blend and letting it speak for itself.

Me: How did they do this?

Kevin: Price helps them out, and they are able to make it with enough structure and flavor that the price is right for the wine they sell. Once the door was open the sky was the limit from there. I am also not your normal wine drinker in that I like the grapes more used in blends by themselves, and I think as time goes on we are going to start seeing more and more of the blend grapes being sold by themselves like Malbec is now.

Me: Do you think Argentinean wines deserve space on the wine list?

Kevin: Yes they do, and I have always had them on my wine lists. I don’t design my wine lists like a lot of people do though. I try and have wines on my list that you can’t get at your local store because I don’t want people to be thinking about the price of wine at the store compared to in my restaurant. I want a person to be looking more at the wine itself and what they want to drink with what they eating as opposed to looking at the price and picking something that is more in line with their wallet. That is why you will see that we have 25 wines for $25 a bottle and 6 dollars a glass on the NECI and while this might not seem like it is a good idea for the overall profit it comes down to menu engineering. All the wines we have are all good wines that I have tasted and since people don’t have to question the price of the wine they can drink what they want to drink. That way we can make a recommendation of a wine like Malbec instead of a Cabernet to better fit with the meal they are going to be eating.

Me: Do we have any wines from Argentina here?

Kevin: Yes we have a Conquista Malbec from Mendoza Argentina.

Me: We have talked a lot about the strengths of the Argentina wine industry, but what weakness do you think they have if any?

Kevin: Argentina is really only known for their Malbec’s and the other wine selection they have is pretty limited. They are not like California where you can get almost any wine you would want. They do make other wines like Cabernet and also Bonarda but I personally don’t like them as much as.

Me: Do you have any other facts or information to share, or anything you would like to see them do or try?

Kevin: I haven’t been to Argentina but from what I know of the climate that they have I think they could do more with both the front side of the mountain range where it is more lush to experiment with other types of grapes,. The same is true for the back side of the mountain range where it is more stringent. What could a 20 year old Malbec grown in this climate look and taste like? Playing around with what they grow where is something I would like them to try, because now a day’s a wine from Argentina is not a hard sell, it use to be a few years ago but it is not anymore.


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