It’s #TravelTuesday and Roaming By Design is taking you to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the steaks sizzle and the wines are fine!
Daniel Karlin and partners founded Anuva Wines in 2007 in Buenos Aires with the goal of providing the best valued Argentine wines at all price points to the world. The company does this in 3 ways: by holding wine tastings in Buenos Aires for visitors to the city (in English or Spanish); by importing and wholesaling in the U.S.; and through the company’s wine club with direct shipping of wine to 34 states in the U.S. The company’s wine tastings for visitors to Buenos Aires consist of 5 premium and ultra-premium wines, which are hand-selected for guests; 5 specific food pairings; and a casual presentation about Argentine terroir, the wines, winemaking, and subjects such as which restaurants to visit, other wine-related activities and hyped-up things to avoid in the city.
I thought RBD readers would like to know how an American who ended up in Buenos Aires without the intention of staying met the love of his life, put down roots and created a worldwide wine distributorship. RBD: How did you become interested in wines? DK: I arrived in Argentina in 2004 and was told by several Argentines and Brazilians that Malbec was the wine to drink. I had never liked wine before but I drank it and was very impressed. I thought, What great wine! What a great price! I bet this could sell in the U.S. and to tourists. My next thought was, If there were just a white wine to go with it! Then I found Torrontes, the flagship white of Argentina, on my first trip to Mendoza and was sold. RBD: Why did you choose Buenos Aires?
DK: I think Buenos Aires chose me more than I chose it. When I arrived in 2004, I had intended to backpack around the world for twp years. Within 36 hours of landing, I met the girl who is now my wife and one of the co-founders of Anuva. The two of us, along with my business partner Yuji, started Anuva because we saw great opportunity: unknown wines, very high quality wines at very good prices, an appealing culture and my desire to create an Argentine-American business.
RBD: Argentine wines have enjoyed quite a high popularity in the past decade. To what do you attributed this renown?
DK: The best price-to-quality-relationship wines in the world. Argentina enjoys lower production costs than any other country and this translates to the prices of their wines. Also, the terroir of Argentina is truly unique: it is the only major wine making country that has continental weather systems as opposed to coastal. The Andes Mountains create a physical barrier between the winemaking region and the ocean.
This does several key things: it creates a very dry region that has fresh runoff water from the Andes; Argentina has the highest altitude vineyards in the world (altitude creates a higher diurnal temperature differential); and Argentina has porous, rocky, alluvial soil, which creates the ability to induce “water stress” in the vines. These characteristics are key for making great Malbec, Torrontes and Bonarda—the three varietals that hail from Argentina. Dryness eliminates the need to spray and also allows the fragile Malbec and Torrontes grapes to achieve full maturation on the vine, which creates fruity, drinkable wines.
The altitude creates a temperature differential, which fosters higher acidity. In the case of Torrontes especially, this is key. Take Spain, Torrontes’ original home as a comparison: the altitude was not high enough so the wine came out “flabby” or lacking acidity. Permeable, alluvial soils are great for grape growing in general as this allows for water stress which creates more dense, concentrated grapes which are necessary for making great wine.
RBD: What is the most important piece of advice you’d give to visitors to Baires when it comes to choosing where to sample wines and for visitors wanting to tour Argentina’s wineries?
DK: Well, in Buenos Aires we are the only gig in town. There is literally nowhere else to go to do a real sampling of five wines from all over Argentina. But if they are visiting Mendoza, I try to give advice based on their preferences: are they young and just getting into wine, which might mean they’d like the Bikes and Wines tour? Are they the type to hire a private car? Do they want to be more social and go with a group of 12? Are they collectors with a 10,000-bottle cellar? Based on answers to questions like this, I then recommend wineries from the smallest boutiques to the largest commercial wineries.
RBD: What’s the best time of year for visitors to come to Argentina to visit wineries?
DK: March through April and October through November are best.
RBD: Do you have an all-time favorite wine, and why?
DK: I always say that this is a bad question to ask me because a) I have so much access to wine that I make selections based on my mood and what food I’m eating, and b) because I love wine so much it is easy for me to be too snobby about it. But in the top 5 are San Gimignano Malbec Roble, Mairena Blend Reserve, Carinae Prestige and Torrontes, Serrera Gran Guarda, Hom Sparkling.
RBD: If you could think of one insider tip to give Americans about Argentine wines, what would it be?
DK: The argentine wine you find on most big supermarket shelves is not the best stuff that Argentina produces. We are still only seeing 30 to 40% of all wine produced in Argentina being exported to the U.S., and 90% of this volume is from the big boys: Catena (Alamos), Trapiche, Dona Paula, Zuccardi, etc. Look at what the companies (there are about three of us now) who are importing exclusively Argentine wine are promoting and sample these. This is where you will find the great values.