By: Mariano Braga
The US wine guru spoke about the prospects for Argentinian wine. WineSur provides readers with part of the article published in the magazine Wine+ in December.
What did you discover in Malbec in 2004 that made you predict its international enthusiasm?
I think the quality of Malbec at all price ranges in Argentina continues to be one of the great wine stories in the world. Remarkably high quality wines are available at very low prices, and of course, there are also the world-class Malbec made by the most serious producers in Argentina. Argentina has proven that Malbec is a world-class grape, something that France was never able to achieve.
However, in the last months people have been talking about the “resurgence” of Malbec from Cahors. Do you think this could be a threat to the Argentinian industry?
I disagree with you about the resurgence of Malbec in Cahors. I do not think Argentina has any threat to its industry as long as they continue to turn out great Malbec at all price ranges. It is important to have inexpensive Malbec so that most consumers can get a feel for what the grape offers and for how good Argentinian Malbec can be. Obviously for the longer lived ones and more expensive ones, these are flagships which are much more limited in production. Secondly, I have never tasted a Malbec from Cahors as good as many of the Malbec that exist in Argentina, and while improvements have certainly been made in Cahors, I don’t think Argentina has anything to worry about.
In 2004 you also said that the wine market was never going to become saturated because there would always be new wine consumers. After the severe international crisis and several countries suffering its consequences, do you still think the same?
Certainly the worst worldwide recession since the Great Depression of 1929 was something no one predicted, and I certainly did not see it coming at all. I have been consistently worried about the stratospheric prices for top Bordeaux and Burgundies, as well as some California and Australian wines. I do think we are now in the midst of a rather strong, fundamental shift, where wine consumers are demanding that wines over-perform and that they give more value in quality at every price point.
Expensive wines, particularly those of Bordeaux, still seem to be holding their own in the marketplace, which is hard to understand, given how high the pricing is, but I do think most expensive wines are suffering with the international financial crisis. But this is not a bad thing. A correction is often essential, and it makes consumers realize just how many terrific wines can be purchased at under 25 dollars. The real market today in the United States (which is, of course, the country I know the best) is that wine consumption continues to increase rather dramatically, but the market is for high quality wines under 25 dollars a bottle. Wines that exceed 25 dollars a bottle are struggling and will continue to struggle for the immediate future.
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