Argentine Malbec conquers world markets
Malbec conquers was originally planted by the Romans in southwest France nearly 2,000 years ago, but the Malbec grape has long left its European roots behind. Today, it is the signature varietal of Argentina and one of the world’s fastest-growing and best-loved wines.
To toast its ascent and future prospects, Wines of Argentina, an industry exporters’ group, has declared this Sunday “Malbec World Day” and is organising wine tastings from Armenia to Australia, and from Serbia to Shanghai.
Malbec has already made big inroads into international markets and wine conoisseurs’ hearts, as well as being a dashing ambassador for Argentina. The country is now the world’s fifth biggest wine producer and seventh largest exporter.
In 2010, Argentina exported a record, in dollar terms, of $865m, though Malbec is the star of the show (accounting for 40 per cent of all bottled wine exports in 2010 but 60 per cent of exports to the US). Six out of every 10 Malbec bottles exported went to the US and Brazil, but exports to China, Mexico and the Netherlands also rose.
While overall export volumes (including unbottled wines and those in tetrapaks) fell 7.5 per cent last year, bottled wine exports are growing well and made up three-quarters of export revenue in January, when China became one of the top 10 export destinations – a surprise result which confirms China’s interest in Argentine wine.
As one of the events being organised for the Malbec World Day, experts from Britain, the US and Canada will be flown to Argentina to hand pick grapes, ship them home and “see whether they can really do wine like an Argentine”.
Given Malbec’s itinerant past and the fact, as the website puts it, that the grape quickly adapted to Argentina and began “to produce wines better than in its original land”, Argentina may want to be cautious.
But then, as world wine experts have highlighted, there is more to Argentine wines than just Malbec. But that’s another story.
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