Posted on | February 23, 2012
Written by | Kristen Wolfe Bieler
This April 17th is the official World Malbec Day. However, given the grape’s phenomenal growth and status as America’s fastest growing red wine, it seems more like Malbec Year.
Imports of Argentinean wines are up 25.3%—a full seven times more than the growth of the overall wine category—which makes the South American giant #5 in terms of imports to U.S. shores. In other words, Argentina’s importance within the U.S. has grown more than any other import country over the last few years.
This is overwhelmingly thanks to Malbec, which accounts for over half of the Argentinean wines that land here. Malbec sales were up almost 50% (46.5%) in the U.S. last year and two brands accounting for much of that increase are Trivento and Concho y Toro, with eight different Malbecs between them.
“Our Malbec business continues to grow quite aggressively,” says Ed Barden, director of marketing at Excelsior Wine Company, which is no exaggeration. While the Trivento line experienced a 44% boost over the last year, Trivento’s Malbecs were up 63%—with growth, impressively, across all price ranges.
Barden explains, “Consumers have discovered Malbec as a tremendous value, fitting a number of different usage occasions from BBQ to white tablecloth restaurants. It has taken off in the U.S. because it delivers great quality for the price; it offers drinkers a delicious alternative and it is creating new drinkers. From a taste perspective, it meets a lot of the consumer’s needs.”
Specifically, what that means, according to Victoria Prandina, winemaker for Trivento’s Eolo wine, is that “Malbec has sweet, fruity aromas and balanced tannins; it offers great body, structure and depth. The quality of Malbec has improved too,” adds Prandina, “as winemakers have a better understanding of the terroirs in which it thrives. Argentina’s sunny days with cool nights are ideal for Malbec—these are the perfect conditions to develop ripe tannins and deep colors.”
The popularity of Malbec is spilling over into Chile as well. Concho y Toro has introduced two stunning Malbecs from Chile, one under their Casillero del Diablo label, and another brand-new release, the Gran Reserva Malbec. Part of the Serie Riberas line, a collection of single-vineyard wines each coming from a site near one of Chile’s great rivers, the Gran Reserva showcases Malbec’s elegant side. Casillero del Diablo is made by Marcelo Papa, one of the Chile’s most esteemed winemakers.
Excelsior Wine Company has declared March “Malbec Month” to create a drive on distribution supported by impactful displays and tools for retailers. The simple message—Drink Malbec—will be reinforced with casecards, bottleneckers, window displays, promotional give-aways, sampling efforts and video spots viewable on Youtube and at drinkmalbec.com. And the company knows it works, shares Barden: “Last year’s Malbec Month resulted in a 62% depletions increase for our Malbecs, and an almost 40% growth in account distribution, proving that the more you talk about and promote Malbec, the more consumers discover it—and purchase.”