Like the Kiwis with Sauvignon Blanc,
the Argentinians have—in less than 20
years—created a new, classic wine style.
There is no question that Argentina
has over-delivered on in this category.
A January 2013 Wine Opinions report
shows that consumers rated 90% of
under-$20 Argentinian reds (note this
includes all reds, not just Malbec) as
“good” or “outstanding”. Of course,
Daniel Taytslin, a wine and spirits
consultant at Manhattan’s Astor Wines
and Spirits, says “Argentinian red” is
synonomous with “Malbec” for nine out
of ten customers.
With such a high quality-to-price
ratio, however, the question arises as
to how much Americans are willing
to pay for a bottle of Malbec. Is it pos-
sible that Argentinians might follow
the footsteps of their other Southern
Hemisphere brethren…the Aussies
with their Shiraz?
Were Argentinian Malbec to go the
way of the “just a Tuesday night pizza
wine,” the country’s producers could be
in serious trouble. According to Wines
of Argentina, in 2011 Malbec repre-
sented 34% of black grape plantings.
Bonarda trails well behind at 18%, fol-
lowed by Cabernet Sauvignon at 17%.
Argentina’s signature white grape, Tor-
rontes, accounts for 24% of total vine-
yard surface area. But, Torrontes, for
now at least, doesn’t have the complex-
ity to draw much attention, let alone
name recognition.
Stuck in Place?
Besides there being little apparent move-
ment of Malbec drinkers toward other
Argentine wines, there does not appear
to be a natural tendency for these con-
sumers to migrate upward in price.
Malbec on the Move: But In Which Direction?
Having Gained Household-Name Status,
Argentina’s Signature Red Aims to Keep Momentum
albec is much-loved. It’s easy to see—and taste—why. Five years
ago, I described it as the next Merlot. After all, Malbec has a plump
mid-palate and chunky, generous red plum and berry flavors
like Merlot. Varietal Malbec wines are medium- to full-bodied and they
often sport some chewy viscosity. All of these factors deliver immediate
satisfaction to most consumers.
Malbec ripening on the vine at Nieto Senetiner in Luján de
Cuyo, within the Mendoza region. Below: harvest at Altos
Las Hormigas, which produces four separate Malbecs.
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