The Vines of Mendoza

United States | Malbec's boom


By: Laura Saieg
Private vineyar estates

US press highlights the chances of Argentinian wine during crisis time. They say that this product, especially Malbec, is in its best moment and Argentina is offering what the market needs: "good values."

In spite of the crisis, Argentinian wines seem to have great chances on the US market. Today people are considering Argentinian wines as a bargain, a business for consumers' pockets, since they have not also good prices but also excellent quality.

During his stay in Mendoza, Jay Miller from The Wine Advocate, one of the most influential journalists of the United States, spoke about the chances of Argentina and as regards the future of Argentinian Malbec he said that "in the US market the sky is the limit since even in the entry level, which is around 10 dollars, quality is very good and enjoyable."
"During economic crisis people in The United States don't drink less, they drink more but they drink cheaper, they buy less expensive wines and that goes well for Argentinian wines which are around 20 dollars. Thus, I think that, in spite of the crisis, Argentina will sell significantly more wine in 2009 than in 2008," said the wine specialist. Besides, he considers that the relationship between price and quality is one of the essential factors in Argentina's success in the US market.
Miller said that he does not think of big problems for the future. "Maybe there will be just a decrease in sales of wines over 25 dollars." In this sense, he added: "I just think that basically Argentinian producers should continue what they are doing, but if I would have to give a piece of advice is just to continue focusing on quality and not to get greedy."

Furthermore, Dave McIntyre, wine columnist for The Washington Post, pointed out that Argentinian wines have achieved an important position thanks to Malbec. "Argentina's wines, especially Malbec, are indeed highly popular right now among US wine drinkers. Malbec excels in what wine writers call ‘quality-price ratio', or QPR - meaning that it tastes more expensive than it costs."

An unbeatable offer

This seems to be the description for Argentinian wines in the US market considering not only price but also quality. The columnist for The Washington Post said that Argentinian wines are considered a bargain since they are a business for consumers.

"There are a lot of chances. Especially in the current economy, people are spending less per bottle of wine, so they are finding great values among Malbec from Argentina at 10 to 20 dollars a bottle retail."

John Mariani, wine critic, published an article in about Argentina's advantages at crisis time. He pointed out that "if ever there was a right time to be in the right place when it comes to selling wine, Argentina seems ideally situated to thrive." Besides, he added that 20-dollar Argentinian Malbec wines are conquering the US market.

Furthermore, Laurie Daniel, journalist from Mercury News, said to WineSur that "in these difficult economic times, Argentina offers a good segment of prices. I think that the general perception of Argentinian wines is that they have very good value, especially Malbec."

Doug Frost, US journalist and wine consultant, assessed that today Argentina offers many good businesses. "There's no question that Argentina's first asset is its reputation for good value."

Besides, he said that "in United States growth in wine consumption has not slowed a bit; indeed it continues to grow. But people are spending less money per bottle and the most expensive wines are not selling as they used to. Considering Argentina's reputation for great value, the country's wine sales will continue to accelerate in United States."

Finally, Michael Schachner, journalist of the Wine Enthusiast Magazine and wine writer of Food and Travel, agreed with Frost and pointed out that there is a noticeable change in consumption.

"The ranks that will achieve a better position will be those between 10 and 15 dollars and those under 25 dollars. However, more expensive wines, those over 40 dollars, will face serious problems. As regards this prospect, Argentina is enjoying an advantage since it offers excellent values with a good price-quality relationship."

The focus should be on promoting "high quality wines"

This is another conclusion from US press. Although nowadays Argentina offers a good "value", press should continue focusing on high quality wines. This way, once the storm has passed, it will not be pigeonholed as low price wines.

A journalist from Mercury News said: "Once economy has improved, consumers will start buying wines of the first rank. Therefore, Argentinian wineries should continue promoting its high quality wines."

Frost agreed with Mercury and added: "I am one who strongly believes that Argentina needs to continue to produce high end wines in order to protect its reputation."
Furthermore, Jay Miller emphasized that "it is necessary to continue promoting these wines since they can capture US market and compete with those from the Old World. In the level of 50 dollars or more, the prospects are good due to the excellent relationship between price and quality. There are wines with quality comparable to France or Napa Valley, but these are three, four or five times more expensive than the ones from Argentina. Therefore, there are good prospects for Premium wines."
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