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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Malbec in Argentina and Buenos Aires: Fad or Forever

Malbec has been long known as the signature grape of Argentina, but only recently has it achieved the fame and notoriety it deserves. My business Anuva Vinos, deals directly with this fine product of Argentina, and many of the tourists and expats who know a lot, or know very little, of its existence. As far as I know, though (and I do quite a bit of research on the subject), Anuva is the only company that provides wine tastings for tourists who are visiting Buenos Aires. This seems very ironic since the wine is becoming so popular in the U.S. and other countries. Why would it be so hard to find a good wine tasting in Buenos Aires? First of all, only since 2004 has the Malbec "boom" been taking place. It was then that critics like Robert Parker and wine experts like Michel Rolland declared Malbec, and Argentine wines in general to be worthy of world-class wine status. As many of you know, things in Argentina happen slowly, and thus, the creation of venues for tourists to taste these fine wines has gone by the wayside. Second, it is very hard in Argentina to sell wine tastings to the Argentine public. The tourist market does demand and increasingly demands fine Argentine wines, access to local wines and wine tourism, but the locals do not. Argentines themselves tend to consume a lot more table wine than fine wine, as a) very few of them can afford it and b) their culture is more one of mixing wine with soda water or coke than drinking nice wine from a crystal glass. Third, and mainly and extension of point 2, the Argentine wineries that produce the higher quality wines are looking outward for expansion. First to the U.S., then the U.K., Europe, Canada, Brazil and now China and Russia as well for growth. Per capita consumption of wine in Argentina is down from its all time high in the 1960s (when they consumed and ungodly 80 liters per capita!) and people are moving more toward beers and liquors for their spirited beverage choices. But Malbec and Argentine wine in the U.S. and elsewhere outside Argentina is booming. Exports are up 300% since 2004 and there is no end in sight. But more importantly than that, Argentine wines and Malbec especially have several things working in their favor: 1. Their price/quality relationship is unbeatable. With the lowest land costs and labor costs out of all the major wine making regions in the world, Argentina simply cannot be beat in this arena. 2. Malbec can take on many forms. From the ever popular fruit forward and smooth varietals without oak that fall in the less than 20 USD category, to the ultra-premium grand reserve Malbecs, this grape is very versital. That means something for everyone at many different price points. I highly doubt that this phenomenon will go away anytime soon, and insider information tells me that certain wine bars will be popping up in certain cities that may rhyme with the words "Cainos Haires" quite soon.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

9/19/2008 04:08:00 PM  

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