This is my fourth attempt to classify Argentina’s best producers, an annual exercise that has stimulated some debate, as well as criticism in some quarters. This is very loosely based on the 1855 Bordeaux Classification, with five different bands (first, second, third, fourth and fifth growths) and a larger group of so-called Crus Bourgeois. Unlike the Bordeaux system, which rated the properties according to market price, my only criterion is quality.
This year, I have increased the number of classified growths to 100 to reflect what I see as the dynamism and excitement of the Argentinean wine scene, but reduced the crus bourgeois from 125 to 100. In other words, there are still 200 wineries listed.
My 2018 classification is a snapshot of the Argentinean wine industry and is entirely my opinion. Mindful that a critic should attempt to reward talent, irrespective of a long track record in some cases, I have chosen my favourite producers, rather than parroted the opinions of others. Some of my classified producers have made only a handful of vintages – Blanchard y Lurton, Buscado Vivo o Muerto, Casa de Uco, Cuarto Dominio, La Giostra del Vino, Lupa, Lui, Mater Vini, Marchiori & Barraud, Moor-Barrio, Per Se, Pyros, Roca Madre, Riccitelli Wines, SonVida, Teho, Tintonegro and Tres 14 – but I think that’s irrelevant. It’s what’s in the glass that counts. Time may prove me wrong, but I think that these wineries will help to define the Argentinean wine scene over the next quarter of a century.
My classification has changed significantly since last year. Twenty-nine of my 100 classed growths are new – Alpamanta, Altar, Amalaya, Casa de Uco, Casarena, Chandon, Clos Ultralocal, Cuvelier Los Andes, Desquiciado, Durigutti, Estancia Uspallata, Flechas de los Andes, Freixenet, Gauchezco, Los Haroldos, Lui, Marchiori & Barraud, Passionate Wine, Renacer, Revancha, Roca Madre, Rolland Wines, Ruca Malen, Traspaliedra, Uraqui, Vaglio, Viñas del Perchel, Xumek and Yacochuya – while six wineries (Chacra, Cadus, Cheval des Andes, De Angeles, Mater Vini and Susana Balbo Wines) has been promoted to First Growth status. It’s all change among the 100 crus bourgeois, too, where there are many of new names, several of which will surely be promoted next year.