Focus on Argentina

Andrew Maidment, Europe & Asia manager at Wines of Argentina, says Argentina’s cheaper wines tend to be consumed domestically, while higher-priced lines are exported. “In an ideal world you don’t export cheaper wines, but it can be part of a brand’s proposition if you have the customers.”

One way of increasing margin at the bulk end is to cut packaging and logistics costs. “Some are looking at shipping bulk wine and having it bottled at the destination,” says Maidment. “Sweden also has a huge amount of wine sold as bag in box.”

Looking forward

If phase one of Argentina’s journey was creating synonymy between Argentina and Malbec, phase two is about communicating Argentina’s regionality and terrior.

“Malbec gave us the opportunity to export – it opened the door to infinite possibilities – but the future is about regionality,” says Doña Paula’s Bonomi. “Malbec doesn’t explain regionality – it is simply a variety. It’ll take a while to explain to consumers but we need to reach the next level. People know what Pomerol is but that took 200 years. 

“With the communication we have today it will be much quicker – we can achieve it in 10 years. My work will be felt by the next generation of winemakers.”

For Vigil, there should be research and development of Argentina’s vine growing areas to develop geographic indications, which might better communicate the message of diversity. 

Talk of Bonarda making a breakthrough persists in some quarters and certainly there are more miles in Torrontes, which is unique to Argentina. But overwhelmingly blends are the talk of Argentina’s wine towns. 

“The future for the New World is blends, for us that is Malbec blends,” says Luciano Rudman, co-ordinator of tourism at Trapiche’s winery in Mendoza. “Blends allow the winemaker to get the credit, not the grape. Some winemakers have their signatures on the wine bottles – it’s a growing trend. Winemakers are becoming the rock stars and blends are the origin and future of Argentinian wine.”

Wines of Argentina’s Pesce agrees the next step is to “communicate the diversity of Malbec terroirs and other varieties/regions” which she calls the “characteristics that define our wine and our country”. 

“Argentina is a country driven by contrast and contradiction: European yet Latin, traditional yet innovative, rustic yet refined. These characteristics define Argentina and are present in all that we do,” she says.

Economic contrast

For many producers, economic policies are in contrast with the future success of Argentinian wine. But, as Pulenta says: “In Argentina we are experts at walking the tightrope.” 

Besides, Argentinian wine has too many selling points and too many devotees to be derailed. If the world starts to hear more about its huge regional and varietal diversity, altitudinal range and craftsmanship we will soon be discussing phase three, not phase two of the industry’s success. 

Hamish Smith’s trip to Argentina was sponsored by Air Europa and the Argentina Institute of National Tourism Promotion (Inprotur),