As many in Argentina are keen to look beyond Malbec, Trapiche's chief winemaker thinks producers could do a lot more to promote the diverse styles of its signature grape variety.
Vineyards in Argentina produce a variety of Malbec styles
Daniel Pi said that it is important not to neglect Malbec’s diversity within Argentina amid the push to promote a wider range of wine styles from the country.
‘We have to put more focus on trying to communicate places,’ Pi told decanter.com during a recent interview in London. ‘We have a jewel and no other country in the world has this.’
He added that some regions of the so-called Old World are quite happy to put their focus on either one grape variety, or very few varietals, such is the case with Sangiovese in Tuscany.
Malbec constituted 45% of the country’s bottled wine exports in 2012, although only made up around 22% of the country’s production of ‘high quality’ grapes, according to a report on the country’s wine industry published by the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service.
There is seemingly no end to the experimentation in Argentina’s vineyards. Santa Rita Estates-owned Dona Paula, for example, is set to launch its first commercial vintage of Riesling in the country. It has produced 2,000 cases.
‘We have held events around Argentina to introduce Riesling to consumers,’ said Lucia Mallea, international brand manager for the Santa Rita Estates-owned group.
Dona Paula’s viticulturalist, Martin Kaiser, said, ‘We wanted to plant Riesling because it is elegant and aromatic and we think this vineyard is well-suited as if offers minerality as well as aromatic characteristics. We are always trying new varietals – we have 20 different ones planted.’
He highlighted Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir as the most promising. ‘The challenge [with Pinot Noir] is to avoid over-ripeness.’
Higher costs present perhaps the most immediate challenge for Argentina, according to local analysts for Rabobank. ‘Production costs have increased by as much as 100% over the past four years,’ analysts said in a recent report.
‘Most wineries exporting at less than US$30 per case are likely losing money,’ the analysts said, based on interviews with producers in the country.
‘The average price for Argentinian wine has been rising over the years, but costs have been rising faster than revenues’, Rabobank analyst Valeria Mutis told decanter.com.
Argentina’s exports of still bottled wine began to contract in 2012, the analysts added, also warning of the country’s potential over-reliance on the US market, which swallows around half of exports.
(Additional reporting by Lucy Britner)
Written by Chris Mercer