Argentine wine at Prowein
How our wines are doing at the largest wine fair in the world.
Weaknesses and strengths on the world wine scene
The doors open, you can sense the magnitude of what is about to happen in the thickness of the air, the energy of thousands of people, waiting for the beginning of something extraordinary.
Coordinated as if a metronome marked the pulse and step, the first exhibitors do not take long to arrive. At the same time, about 60,000 bottles are uncorked and a similar number of spectators will enjoy the PROWEIN experience.
And here, Dusseldorf, March 17th, the largest show in the world begins, the one nobody wishes to skip.
Today, the world wine scene represents an unprecedented level of competition that becomes more acute as time passes by.
If we look a few decades ago, elementary factors such as a non-globalised world, less incidence of commercial and marketing tools and greater local consumption of products, contributed to a truly different scenario.
Today the producing countries multiply their lines, labels, and varieties; generate investment and implementation projects; travel inhospitable lands in search of new wine regions.
All of these factors contribute to greater competition, to a variable and dynamic scenario where action is taken in relation to supply and demand, to victories and defeats: global competence.
Without going any further, China is today among the first producers in the world, when until recently was not even on the map, and possibly in a few years, it will reach the first position.
All of this has changed thanks to communications, market exchanges (long ago consumptions were mostly regional) and events: this article is a chronicle of the paradigm, the Everest of the viticultural encounters of the globe. The Marco Polo, the Christopher Columbus, travelers from all over the world have a meeting point in an event that unites the wine industry of the entire world.
Almost thirteen thousand kilometers lie between Buenos Aires and Dusseldorf, a German city with a little more than half a million inhabitants, which since 1994 has been organizing a fair, where the imposing word does not do justice: today, PROWEIN is the largest fair in the world presenting around 6,900 producers and thousands and thousands of labels from around the world.
The cold and hostile climate that shelters us is only a nuance completely dispensable of what happens in this environment.
Argentina has been participating in this fantastic event for years. All with the same objective: finding a spot in the list of a new distributor, importer or venue with whom they share a similar philosophy, and finding this way, a natural ambassador in a new location.
Under the lights of this scenario, there is no better timing to evaluate the Argentine wine within the framework of wine in the world.
Before going into the strengths and weaknesses of the fair, let’s briefly review how the situation is in Argentina.
How is our emblematic variety today
Without a doubt, it is at its best moment! With more than 4,000 hectares in the last 20 years, its surface has grown by 160%.
The world has seen Malbec grow, and today the challenge is to show that it is not only tasty and enjoyable but also exciting and can participate in a much higher price reference.
Where does Malbec come from
Mendoza is first in the race with an abysmal distance over the other producing regions: 36,580 cultivated hectares that gather 85% of the total vineyards of our flag variety.
In the second place, San Juan with 2,651 hectares (6%), Salta with 1,386.30 hectares. (3%), La Rioja, Neuquén, Río Negro and Catamarca see the summit from really far away in terms of quantity despite the fact that in all regions there are exponents of “art” quality.
Check more about malbec clicking below.
Which are the main markets that Argentine wine deals with
The first five destinations where Argentinian wine arrives are USA, UK, Canada, Brazil, and the Netherlands.
The current challenge lies in positioning in new markets, achieving established popularity in the US, the European continent and Asia.
Who is our main competitor and how does that career work
If we talk about competition, our first opponent are the wines from Chile. We share a mountain range that separates us and that makes an immense difference in terms of terroir. Argentina with the desert and Chile with the sea, Argentina with Malbec and Chile with Carmenere.
The truth is that Chile has always been an example of commercial conduct with excellent agreements and low or no tariffs. However, the quality and effort presented in recent years have led us to take a step forward. Another advantage factor is that Carmenere has not managed to dominate the palates of the world in the same way as Malbec has.
In this 25° edition of Prowein, Argentina has surpassed Chile by 130% more exhibiting wineries.
Pros and Cons of Argentine wine in the global scene
There is no better place to define the strengths of wine than where the comparison is so evident (in the best sense of the word), in a place that exhibits so many references in situ. Below, my perspective in terms of positive aspects of Argentine wine today and points in which I consider we must work on.
Spoiler alert: we are very good, but we can be better, and huge opportunities are waiting for us.
- A new record: This year at PROWEIN we had 150 wineries and 2,500 labels were presented, almost 10% higher than the previous year. Step by step, Argentina’s growth as a country brand is visible.
- Organoleptic quality: Juicy, fresh (today’s growing trend), purple and with very nice tannins. These four characteristics common to all Malbec in Argentina represent a differential added value.
- Wine Spot: Today we are recognized as both weight in quantity and quality producers. This is something to consider since almost 20 years ago we practically weren’t on the map.
- Quality Price Ratio: Especially in the range from 5 USD (FOB) to 12USD, our relationship between price and quality (value) is one of the best in the world.
- Category: Argentine wine quality doesn’t stop improving and the world is very much aware of that. Each year, the perception that we are aiming to upper levels of quality is felt in the air.
- Flag: Malbec is not only a symbol but reference that the entire world’s taste buds recognize and seek. So much it is, that France is retaking its growth, and countries of the new world (Australia, Chile) are seeking to imitate in their own vineyards.
- The union is a strength: WOFA (Wines of Argentina), the unifying amalgam of a country project that is still young abroad, but one which has grown substantially in terms of communication and positioning of the country brand.
- Focus on the Terroir: Diversity of terroirs, new landscapes. Luján de Cuyo and Perdriel are no longer the areas of exclusive importance, as it used to happen some years ago. New subregions such as the recent case of Gualtallary and the already developed example of Altamira show the evolution of our labels. Salta leads a crusade of excellent level;- Patagonia despite representing 3% of Argentine wine, it is a region with its own brand in the world. There are many producers starting to communicate a new vision of Argentine wine.
- Politics: Unfortunately, far from seeking to dye this note with political nuances, the lack of economic support, the removal of subsidies in recent times… all of it deflates competitiveness against other countries such as Spain or Australia, where the state encourages its producers by subsidies and participation. This is especially reflected in the lines of input ranges.
- Distance: Everything is far away from our country: a ticket from anywhere in Europe to Dusseldorf costs between 100 and 150 E, while from here, you’d have to multiply that at least by 10.
- Perception: Although growth is evident in all categories, there is still a lot of work to do regarding time, dedication and consistency towards our market strategies. Something that our Chilean neighbors have been beating us at for decades.
- Share: Although we grow in the number, we only make up 2.2% of the entire fair. Very far from those stealing the spotlight such as France, Italy or Spain.
I imagine a future where there is more place on stage to share the diversity of our terroirs and all of their particularities, the rich diversity that makes up our color and flavor palette.