World wine producers are crying in their cups. According to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), world wine production fell 6 per cent in 2012, to a 37-year low. And smaller grape crops in Argentina, as well as France and Spain, are to blame.
This is bad news for Argentina, where consumers’ love affair with Malbec – at home and abroad – has put the country on the world wine map. Full article
Saturday, February 16, 2013
The Raw Story By Agence France-Presse
Argentina has built up a world-class wine industry, luring a flood of wine tourists, but boosting the quality quotient is still keeping its winemakers hard at work.
The century-old industry, with its heart in the Mendoza area in the southwest, has increased volume by leaps and bounds in the past two decades, with Argentina’s malbec-based reds drawing raves worldwide.
“In the broad scheme of everything going on with wine around the world, we have a long way to go,” said Martin Castro, who runs a vineyard in the Valle de Uco area in Mendoza, a parched and sunny province abutting the soaring Andes that grows its grapes with a huge irrigation network fed by mountain water. Read full article Lee mas
February 18th 2013
Source: The Joseph Report | Robert Joseph.
A column that originally appeared in Meininger’s Wine Business International
It’s always interesting to watch a metamorphosis – especially when it has commercial implications. Not so long ago, before the advent of video recorders and catch-up tv, we all tuned in to watch television programmes at the same times, communicated by letter and fax and got our information from printed books and newspapers. And the wine industry did most of its communication through targeting hospitality, samples and press releases at a group of people known as wine writers.
The members of the industry – a huge majority, I fear – who still believe in that strategy, should take note of a keynote speech given by Andrew Jefford, one of the world’s most highly-regarded, thoughtful and poetic wine writers, to the fifth European Wine Bloggers Conference – EWBC – in Izmir, Turkey, last November. Read full article Lee mas
December 22, 2012
By Edward Deitch, TODAY contributor
As we head into the holidays, why not consider some wines that are both festive and unusual? One of the most exciting whites I’ve tasted this year comes from Argentina and demonstrates once again how it is possible to find extraordinary wines at very modest prices, in this case just $15.
The grape is Semillon. Known mainly as a variety that is blended with sauvignon blanc in Bordeaux and elsewhere, it is also bottled on its own. While sauvignon is lighter, more acidic and aromatic, Semillion tends to produces softer and richer wines.
Although Semillion is usually a supporting player among white wines, Ricardo Santos’s 2012 Semillon from Argentina’s large Mendoza region shows the heights the grape can achieve on its own. Only a tiny bit of Semillon is grown in Argentina, so this wine is a real treat.
Santos sources the grapes from the 70-year-old vineyard of his neighbor, Roberto Azaretto, and the quality of the fruit is stunning. The wine is full and generous with white peach, apricot and mandarin orange and herbal and vanilla notes. It’s a great choice for richer fish dishes and a range of chicken recipes. Imported by Global Vineyard Importers, Berkeley, Calif.
One of the year’s outstanding reds is also from a lesser-known variety, petite sirah from California, not to be confused with the much more widely planted syrah. The variety often produces big, rough-hewn wines but Stag Leap’s 2009 Napa Valley Petite Sirah is refined and elegant with delicious, concentrated blackberry fruit, a touch of black licorice as it opens up and smooth tannins. The oak influence is well integrated and subtle.
This is a lovely, seamless wine that will accompany most red meats perfectly. At $39 on Stag’s Leap’s website, it’s not for everyday drinking but will make your holiday gathering all the more memorable and could also be a gift that any wine lover would appreciate.
When it comes to sparkling wine, there is no shortage of good bubbly at a range of prices. While nothing quite matches the richness and elegance of Champagne, many sparkling wines can be outstanding in their own ways, including Spanish Cavas.
One worth trying is Mont-Ferrant’s Brut Rosé Cava, a deep pink wine made primarily from Garnacha (Grenache), Monastrell (Mourvèdre) and a little Pinot noir. Dry yet fruity with fine bubbles, it’s a bargain at a suggested price of $19 with cherry and cassis flavors and an herbal note on the finish. Light, lively and festive, it will pair well, as many sparkling wines do, with a variety of appetizers and other foods. Imported by Maritime Wine Trading Collective, San Francisco.
Want more suggestions? On Vint-ed, I review more noteworthy sparkling and other wines for your holiday enjoyment and beyond.
Slate, by Christine Folch Sept. 10, 2012
A tale of two quintessential Argentine beverages: wine and yerba mate.
In 1964, Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges wrote the sonnet “To Wine,” which celebrated the wondrous qualities of the drink. “Wine,” the poem proclaimed,
flows red along the great length of generations
like the river of time and on the arduous road
bestows on us its music, its fire, and its lions.
Americans know what he was talking about—we’re crazy about Argentine wines. Malbec has become a standard feature of tasting menus and cocktail parties in the United States, as has, to a lesser degree, the white wine Torrontés. Both varietals appeal to our palates without doing too much damage to our wallets. Read Full Article
September 3, 2012
China Daily by Zhousiyu
Farmers harvesting grapes in a vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina. Thecountry’s wine makers, the world’s fifth largest producer by volume,are eager to try their fortunes in the Chinese market, although itappears now there is no one capable enough of challenging theFrench wine makers’ position in China’s wine market. Provided by China Daily
South American country foments a big wine export drive to China
A beginning should be as good as it is simple. That’s whatAntonio Mompo, manager for Wines of Argentina in Asia, theSouth American country’s wine export organization, had in mindwhen he set out to promote Argentinian wine in China.
“Argentine wine has a simple and fresh taste, which is easy todrink and caters to the Chinese sweet palate,” Mompo said. Hebelieved this simple and pleasant mouthfeel can help the Chinesedevelop the habit of drinking wine.
Yet industry data seem to argue that the country has alreadybecome a confirmed wine drinker. A significant increase was seenin the country’s wine supply over the past seven years: It surgedfrom fewer than 400 million liters in 2004 to 1,400 million liters in2011, according to a report by Rabobank.
In 2011 alone, bottled wine imports into China jumped by 65percent from the previous year
France, among the foreign suppliers, continued to dominate China’s wine market in 2011,growing volumes to more than three-and-a-half times that of Australia, its nearest runner-up,according to the Rabobank report.to 241 million liters, the strongestgrowth since the global financial recession in 2007/8, according tothe report. Strong growth, huge potential and the ability to devoura large amount of premium wine make China one of the mostimportant export markets for wine suppliers across the world.
Although there seems to be no one capable of challenging France in the Chinese market in thenear future, competition among lesser rivals is still fierce. Being one of the newcomers,Argentine wine makers, currently the world’s fifth largest producer by volume, are eager to trytheir fortunes in this bewilderingly complicated market as well.
New World wine
Just like many things in the New World, wine was brought to Argentina by immigrants from Italyand Spain in the late 19th and early 20th century. But whereas many New World wine-makingcountries, including Chile, New Zealand and Australia, exported most of their wine, Argentinepeople drank most of theirs at home.
At a certain point in time, each person in Argentina imbibed the equivalent of 90 liters of wineevery year. The amount is around 30 liters nowadays. “When I was young, there were threekinds of drinks in the house: water, water with wine and wine – and the amount of wine wasdetermined by the age of the person,” Laura Catena, an author, cited an Argentina winemaker,a 90-year-old descendant of a wine-making family, as saying in her book Vino Argentino(Argentine Wine). The high level of domestic consumption helps explain why the worldremained unfamiliar with Argentinian wine until about three decades ago.
The turning point, brought about by a man named Nicolas Catena, Laura Catena’s father,came in the early 1980s. An economist by training, Nicolas Catena, determined to challengeEurope’s position, launched a revolution in the central area of western Argentina’s Mendozaregion, which now produces 70 percent of the nation’s wine.
After studying viniculture, Nicolas Catena found in Mendoza the cool climate that was typical ofthe world’s most famous wine regions by planting at higher elevations. Sheltered by the AndesMountains from Pacific rains, the coolness and low precipitation allow vines to ripen slowly andretain acidity, allowing resultant wines to develop heightened aromas and complex flavors.
Malbec, the most famous wine grape varietal, is another key factor in Argentina’s rise tobecoming a major winemaker in the world. The Malbec grape, one of five Bordeaux varietals(the others are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carberet Franc and Petit Verdot), used to be verypopular with French wineries. Unfortunately, the emergence of phylloxera in the late 19thcentury, a disease caused by an aphid-like insect, wiped out the grape completely in its Frenchhomeland.
To the East
At the same time, brought over by immigrants from the Old World continent, the Malbec grapeadapted successfully to Argentina’s soil and sunny climate and was widely planted. Combiningdark, ripe concentrated flavors with a rich and smooth texture, the Malbec grape soon becameone of the fastest growing wine exports, winning world recognition for its second home.
Naturally, winemakers in Argentina expect Malbec to charm the Chinese just as it did in othermarkets. “Compared with European wines, Argentine wines have softer tannins and cleaneraromas, making it taste less aggressive,” said the renowned Mariano Di Paola, head winemakerat Rutini Wines in Mendoza.
Despite not being one of the largest producers in volume among Argentine wineries, Rutini(owned by La Rural Vinedos y Bodegas SA) is currently the largest seller to China, with itssales far ahead of its nearest follower in recent years.
But the company’s success in China not only relies on its wine’s simple, inviting tastes but alsoon a number of marketing factors. “Rutini Wines is a well recognized brand among the Chinesecircle in Argentina and was mainly sold to East China’s Fujian province – where its memberscame from. The wine thrived based on that connection,” said Antonio Mompo from Wines ofArgentina.
In addition, the fact that the name “Rutini” is easy to pronounce and remember in the Chineselanguage helped the winery to establish its presence, enabling it to sell a lot of premium winesto the Chinese market, said Sol Asensio, Rutini Wines export manager for Asia and LatinAmerica.
To consolidate its position in China, Rutini Wines intends to continue promoting its image as ahigh-end wine producer in Argentina. “We are trying to become the Chateau Lafite forArgentine wines,” Asensio said.
Argentine winemakers are by no means shy of competing in quality with other foreign winesuppliers, including France. Unlike other countries, the climate in Argentina is very stable sothe vineyards do not have distinctively good years or bad years, said Gonzalo Carrasco,winemaker at Terrazas de los Andes winery. Moreover, warm or cold years give different fruitprofiles to the wines, he added.
“As a result, our wine’s quality has been improving each year and it is easy for our customersto form a certain expectation before opening a bottle of Argentine wine,” he said. “They seldomfeel disappointed.”
Terrazas de los Andes winery, owned by the French luxury group LVMH Moet Hennessy LouisVuitton SA, exports 80 percent of its wine every year, its top three markets being the UnitedStates, the United Kingdom and Brazil. China is now indisputably the most important market,Carrasco said. “And we are confident of our own styles (in wine).”
Another advantage for Argentine wine is its reasonable price, which will help Argentinewinemakers confirm their market position, many Chinese wine critics believe. “The Chinese willsoon realize this is a good wine at a good price,” said Tommy Lam, wine program director atShanghai Jiaotong University.
‘China, a continent’
Not all wineries in Argentina can draw on the connection among Chinese people like Rutinidoes to promote their images. One big challenge for the South American country’s winemakersis to find a reliable partner and establish distribution channels in China’s complicated market.
“We are constantly looking for new opportunities to develop the Trapiche brand in China,” saidRamiro Eduardo Barrios, area export manager at the Trapiche winery. Owned by Argentina’slargest wine producer Penaflor SA, Trapiche is the country’s largest exported premium brand.
Barrios also expressed concerns about the popularity of premium Argentine wine in China’s giftmarket. “The numbers are good but you just don’t know whether this will help promote thebrand,” he said.
Another concern for the winemakers about China’s market, Barrios added, is its slackregulation. This has led to numerous fake and counterfeited premium wines, causing quite astir in the international winemaking industry. French wines suffered the most. The situationcame to a head this year as Chateau Lafite was pressed to launch a campaign to fight fakeproducts in the country.
“All in all, China is definitely a core market for Trapiche and we envision big growth rates overthe next few years for Trapiche and Argentina as well,” Barrios said.
A reliable and capable Chinese partner becomes all the more important against thisbackground. Catena Zapata, the winery owned by Nicolas Catena’s family, is a case in point. “We wasted a few years, but we finally found a good partner,” said Jorge Crotta, exportmanager at the winery.
Catena Zapata is now in an exclusive partnership with a Chinese company Beijing BETCGroup, which owns two high-end restaurants featuring Argentine food, one located in Beijingand the other in Shanghai.
Since the partnership was formed in 2011, sales of Catena Zapata’s wine have increasedsteadily, Crotta said. “We are working closely in China to avoid infringements of our wine,” headded.
People with experience in the industry, however, do not encourage winemakers to concentrateon China’s big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. “Competition in first-tier citiessuch as Beijing and Shanghai is very fierce. There is only limited space for a newcomer suchas Argentine wine,” said Antonio Mompo from Wines of Argentina.
With nine years of industry experience in China’s market, Mompo was convinced that the realbusiness potential for the wine industry lies in China’s emerging second- and third-tier cities,where increasing disposable income enabled the residents to try some affordable foreign wine.
“Rutini’s success is very telling – just one province in China is enough to push up its sales,”Mompo said. “China is a continent in terms of business strategies. It is very complicated and allits submarkets are very important,” he added.
Submarkets, in the meantime, may also have lower thresholds. It does not require a big brandpromotion to enter these markets, which means there are opportunities for small wineries.Krontiras is a small winery in Mendoza and this year it managed to send a container of premiumwine to an importer in Northwest China’s Shaanxi province.
“This is our first container to China. We hope this could lead to something and we are veryoptimistic,” said Thanassis Vafiadis, manager at the winery.
Who are the wine drinkers in China today? According to the report by Rabobank, a largeproportion of them are aged between 20 and 39 who earn more than 4,000 yuan ($630) amonth in a skilled profession.
To most Chinese, wine has a positive connection with the Western lifestyle and is not yetconsidered as luxurious as whisky or brandy, or as ordinary as beer, according to the report.This would provide a wine supplier with a strong market position when competing with makers ofother liquors, the report said.
“Grape wines are more likely to attract either younger, better educated, wealthier and/or femaledrinkers than baijiu (China’s traditional spirit) or beer…with the potential to form a strong anddynamic consumer base in years to come,” the report said.
In the meantime, the report also pointed out that the number of people drinking wine is stillrelatively small and limited in geographical scope. And it may still take some time beforeChinese wine afficionados start exploring imported wines in big numbers.
“It will still take some time before the Chinese get familiar with the wine culture so, rather thanbeing led by the brand, they could choose wine based on personal judgment and preference,”agreed Mompo with Wines of Argentina.
Yet Mompo said he also noticed an emerging younger generation who have developed agenuine fondness for the wine culture and are catching up very fast. This younger generationhas formed its own wine circles through the Internet where they can share information andknowledge, Mompo said.
So far this generation is still at a relatively early stage of its life and does not have enoughpurchasing power but, when the time comes, “China will change the world’s wine industry,”Mompo added.
Sheltered by the Andes Mountains and fed by its melt water, wineriesin the Mendoza area – the winemaking area in the center of West Argentina that produces 70 percent of the beverage in the SouthAmerican country – command a breathtaking view of leafy green vineyards growing against a background of snow-capped mountains. Photos Provided to China Daily
A horse-riding gaucho between vineyards in Mendoza, the winemaking area in the center of West Argentina that produces the majority of wine products in the country. Strong growth, huge potential and the ability to devour a large amount of premium wine are making China one of the most important export markets for wine suppliers across the world.
(China Daily 09/03/2012 page13)
Imbibe Magazine – July/August 2012
By Tim Atkin MW
Buenos Aires may be the capital of Argentina, but the hub of its wine business lies around 650 miles to the west in Mendoza. Dominated to spectacular effect by the Andes, this bustling provincial city owes its existence to the majestic mountain range. Without snow melt for irrigation water, there would be no wine industry, or agriculture, in these near-desert conditions. And without the wine industry, Mendoza would be a dusty backwater.
Like Bordeaux, another one of the eight so-called ‘great wine capitals of the world’, Mendoza’s main focus is on vino. The first thing you see when you walk out of the airport, right there on the doorstep of the terminal, is a vineyard, just as it is at Mérignac in the Gironde. Ourwine, it seems to be telling you, is what defines us. Lee mas
Saturday, April 14, 2012
The Irish Times – John Wilson.
Argentina is the hidden heavyweight of the wine world. Currently ranked the fifth-largest producer, it dwarves its better-known neighbour Chile in terms of volume. You will find it in our wine shops, but it lags far behind Australia and Chile in our affections.
This has started to change; internal consumption, once a massive annual 90 litres per head, has dropped to a mere 40 (compared to our measly 19), and exports are growing rapidly. Argentina has a lot going for it; a reliable sunny climate, plenty of inexpensive wine to sell, and its own special adopted grape variety, Malbec. It is also a great place to visit. Read full article
Friday, 18 May 2012
Harpers by Gemma McKenna
Majestic Wine saw strong sales of premium Argentinian wines during the second annual Malbec World Day.
In the period January 31 to April 23 inclusive, sales of all Argentinian wines above £9 per bottle increased by over 19% in volume versus an already strong 2011. This performance was boosted by the Malbec World Day promotion which ran from the April 10 – 17 and included email marketing, Grape to Glass magazine features, a website homepage campaign plus a whole weekend of in-store tastings leading up to the day itself. Between April 10 to 23 the average sales price for Malbec/Malbec blends from Argentina rose by 11% from £7.45 in 2011 to £8.25 in 2012. Read full article
NEW YORK, NY — (Marketwire) — 04/16/12 — New York City welcomes the second annual Malbec World Day through the week of April 17th with several celebratory events.
The Consul General of Argentina in New York, Ambassador Jose L. Perez-Gabilondo, will host a tasting on April 19th at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The event, held in one of the city’s most prestigious cultural landmarks, will feature 20 different wineries from the Malbec region. The event will be honored by the presence of the Governor of Mendoza, the main wine producing province of Argentina, Francisco Perez; Argentine Secretary of Tourism, Daniel Aguilera; and Argentina’s own 2012 Harvest Queen.
“The Guggenheim is a magnificent venue which will congregate the finest Argentine Malbecs together with art and tango,” said Ambassador Perez-Gabilondo.
At its SoHo location, City Winery will host a Malbec Crush and Tasting, open to the public on April 22nd, for over 500 guests.
Thanks to the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with the collaboration of the National Institute of Tourism Promotion and Wines of Argentina, Argentine wines will be served exclusively at nearly 100 events related to the Tribeca Film Festival, serving over 500,000 people.
On the opening day of the festival, April 20th, the Argentine film “La Suerte Entre Tus Manos” (All In), will premiere.
Argentina is the largest producer of Malbec in the world and the fifth-largest producer of wine worldwide, after France, Italy, Spain and the United States.
“Not only vines but also climates, cultures and people form part of the blend for wine. Wines produced are in tune with the personality of their places of origin. Argentina’s wine route is an adventure filled with flavors and sensations, open to all tastes and particularly enticing to lovers of good wines,” commented Secretary of Tourism Aguilera.
Malbec World Day reinforces Argentina’s role as a benchmark of this variety around the world. Next week in New York, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Consulate General and Promotion Center of Argentina in New York, The National Institute of Tourism Promotion, and Wines of Argentina will powerfully place Malbec in the spotlight.
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March 25, 2012
Crikey by Lilani Goonesena.
Lilani Goonesena writes: The drive from Chile’s capital of Santiago to the wine country of Mendoza, Argentina, is truly spectacular. The narrow, two-lane road labours through the winding Andes mountain range, passing ski fields and culminating in 27 steep switchbacks snaking up to the border.
Across the border, the road gently slopes down, skirting the magnificent Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas at just under 7,000m and crosses the desert of the Cuyo region. Canyons, glacial lakes and sparse vegetation sit against the backdrop of distant mountains and a skinny Rio Mendoza weaves alongside all the way into the city. Read full article Lee mas
March 26, 2012
By Paul Gregutt
Special to the Seattle Times
Wine Adviser Paul Gregutt says these are wines for those who love pure, intense berry flavors. NEW AND emerging wine regions often get tagged as specialists in a particular type of wine. The advantage is that they have an instant calling card, a distinct identity among the endless shelves of vino begging for your attention. But breaking out of the grip of that one-trick-pony label can be most frustrating.
Argentina’s malbecs have achieved global recognition, and deservedly so, for their purity of fruit, their mineral-driven acidity, and their overall value. Attempts to expand on that base have met with only limited success.
Torrontés is a delicious white wine, particular to Argentina, that tastes something like a cross between muscat and viognier, with a similar floral/citrus fragrance and flavor. But torrontés is a bit of a Lone Ranger in the world of whites, and no other Argentine white wines stand out from the crowd. Read full article
January 24th, 2012
Eatocracy by Ray Isle
Here in the U.S. of A., we drink a lot of Chardonnay – over 53 million cases of it from California alone. Cabernet Sauvignon, too; we love the stuff. Merlot, Pinot, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, bottle after bottle of those as well.
And that’s all well and good. But there are thousands of different wine grapes out there in the world, and with all that abundance, why not take a flier on an oddball but tasty option? Here are five lesser-known but nifty varieties to look for.
Possibly because Malbec has been such a wild success story, Argentina’s signature white grape has gotten much less attention. Yet it’s delightful (and affordable): flamboyantly floral and citrusy at once, it’s at its best from the high-altitude Salta region, where altitude and cooler temperatures keep it crisp, but there are some fine versions from Mendoza too. A few brands to look for: Crios de Susanna Balbo, Colome, Michel Torino’s Don David bottling, and Notro. Read full article
20 January, 2012
Drinks International by Christian Davis
Master of Wine Peter Richards was speaking at a seminar on South American wines, which was held last week (January 17) in London.
The author of a definitive book on Chile, Richards said that the two main wine-producing countries in South America were growing so fast that there has been a “seismic shift” in the two competing industries. He went on to say in his opening remarks that it was “a time of great opportunity and there were opportunities as well as risks”. Lee mas
I’ve wanted for a long time to write about Malbec, because I know so little about it and (consequently) have held prejudices against it. And there’s nothing like a healthy mix of desire, ignorance and acknowledged bias when you want to learn something.
Who would attempt a short newspaper column on “Pinot Noir” or “Sauvignon Blanc?” No one interested in fairness or categorical insight. You’d get called out in an instant, yet somehow everyone thinks they know what “Malbec” indicates. I know I did, based on limited and arbitrary tastings. I still don’t know what it’s all about, but now I’m interested.
I’m interested in the wines, and I’m interested in the thought processes that have kept me (and many others) from being interested in the first place. Much of this space today will represent an attempt to emerge from a blinkered perspective on Malbec; next week, I’ll stay on the topic but pay more attention to Argentine terroir and particular wines.
By “Malbec,” I mean the single-varietal wines from Argentina. Malbec in its entirety takes many more forms: Single-varietal Malbec from Cahors, France (where it’s called Cut Noir) and the Loire; Malbec as a minority grape in Bordeaux and a growing number of exciting domestic blends. And Mendoza, the main wine-growing area in Argentina, has three-fourths the acreage planted to grapes that all of California has. So let’s please not generalize. Read full article