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THIRTY WINES IN SEVENTY-FIVE MINUTES: WELCOME TO ARGENTINA

I had the pleasure of attending a demanding but highly informative tasting at the 3 West Club, NYC on October 1, 2013 covering a large number of Argentine wines, with a format I had not experienced before. It was the brainchild of Evan Goldstein (Full Circle Wine Solutions), who referred to it as “speed dating for wines.”

He refreshingly started on time, and after a one minute intro to the format, and perhaps two brief slides, if I remember correctly, showing Argentina’s world production and imports to the US, we were off and sipping. Three flights of 10 wines were poured, each following the same sequence.

We had about 7 or 8 minutes to taste, compare and take notes on the first flight without interruption, and on our own. This was followed by a one minute presentation by the representatives of each the wineries, following the tasting sheet order. Unlike an award show, Evan actually timed the reps, giving a 10 second warning before shutting them down. Because fact/tech sheets were in the handouts for each of the wines, the presenters were told to tell us “something not on the tech sheets,” since time was precious, and we could all presumably read.

Then, as the assembled dumped the contents of our glasses, we had about 5 minutes to ask follow up questions about he first flight wines. This gave the cadre of pourers time to get the second flight in our glasses, and repeat our quick assessment of the wines, followed by the one minute presentations, followed by questions, dumping and refilling for the third flight. We had to work to keep up, at least I did.

I was sitting in between two of my friends from Philly, Terence Gibbs (Frank’s Wines of Delaware) and Tony Lawrence (A Chef For You). The few times that I paused to confer, or make a comment; I fell behind, and had to pick up the pace.  Those flights waited for no one, as a larger walkaround was scheduled to start at the planned end of this speed tasting and the reps had to get to their tables, where additional wines were being shown.

Among the thirty wines were examples of Semillon, Chardonnay, Torrontes, Pinot Noir, Bonarda, Syrah, Malbec, Cab Franc, and various Bordeaux and Rhone blends.  Evidently each producer chose one of their wines to pour on “speed” with several others available at the walkaround.

This was one of the most professional, organized and focused tasting events I’ve been to in quite a while. It respected the audience’s prior knowledge and time. We were able, even prompted to skip around in each flight, as long as we kept moving. Every sample bottle had a Drop Stop, so even the pouring was quick and dripless.  The wines flew by, and unless you took fast (in my case cryptic) notes, you would be left in the dust. It was good to be challenged. Literature was organized; all tech sheets followed the same format; the schedule was followed.

Here are a few of the wines that I particularly liked (none were duds):
• Alta Vista Premium Torrontes 2012; elegant nose, full mouth feel and finish $ 20
• Septima Chardonnay 2013; good concentration and very restrained oak, almost Macon $ 12
• Valle Perdido Patagonia Pinot Noir 2011; a bit of cocoa, nice varietal concentration and finish $ 18
• Nieto Reserva Bonarda 2011; concentrated and rich, a great value $ 13
• Pascual Taso Reserva Cabernet 2011; delicious, integrated and ready to drink $19

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