Musings Mendoza Harvest 2013

April 15, 2013. Tax Day in the US – Sure glad I am not stuffing envelopes today, but sent money to the IRS all the same. Nothing can or should be done to end that, it is one of our fundamental obligations I believe.

During the last few days in Mendoza, beautiful warm, dry weather has out competed the unstable weather that included drizzly to hard rain to threatened high country snow and frosts in some parts of Valle de Uco. It didn’t last long but put us all in a momentary panic and made us once again realize that we are all beholden to mother nature in this business. We are now all pushing to bring in the last of the grapes that are out there, so it looks to be a busy week at the winery. Next week looks to be rainy again, so time to hurry.

It is also appropriate to write about taxes now since this seems to be the crux of the issue in Argentina these days. In a broad sense it is capitalism vs socialism, Latin American style. But, it is more meaningful to discuss transparency and what is done with citizens tax dollars that seems to be the issue.

Most of us accept the legitimacy of taxes in the US. We can argue about what amount is the right amount and we can discuss what the money should be spent on, but basically we agree with the premise. We pay taxes to support our democracy and safeguard it from its breakdown and degradation.

Argentina once accepted this same basic premise, that government was necessary to preserve freedom, now it appears that government is using taxes to limit freedoms by limiting transactions in the market place, by attempting to control the press and by attempting to reconfigure the judiciary so it will rubber stamp the actions of a congress already obedient to the presidency. With large scale accusations of corruption by the presidency currently playing out in the press, people here are questioning their basic assumptions about democracy, the market and taxes.

Taxes here are not just merely increasing, the enforcement is ever harsher and more activist. The presidency now uses enforcement of ever changing tax compliance as a political tool of intimidation. Tow the party line or get “investigated”. Since dollars are no longer freely exchanged, a black market has emerged to buy and sell dollars at a “Blue” rate. It has become the “true market rate” for dollars and complicates investment via the regular banking sector since the “official rate” (5.1 to $1) is so far below the Blue rate, (currently 8.3 to $1). If, as is being currently alleged, the president is flying 100s of millions of tax dollars to Uruguay under cover of night for personal enrichment, the idea of paying taxes becomes fraught with controversy. Everything risks breaking down.

So Argentina is quickly getting into a pickle. So much so that most speculate a crisis similar or worse to 2001 is near at hand. From the vantage point of a person in the wine industry, the following looks to be happening:
1) Because of the insecurity in the investment climate, no new wineries are opening. The opposite is true. Some wineries are closing.
2) Because demand is diminished, grape prices are falling in real pesos if the 30% annual inflation is considered. Thus grape farmers are actually loosing money farming quality grapes this year if they sell at the market rate. This obviously won’t last for long.
3) Because of inflation, wineries are struggling to pay increasing packaging costs, labor and fuel, particularly the smaller ones that are not widely established in world markets and cannot raise price or sell enough volume to cover lower marginal profits.
4) Wineries’ tax credits are exploding. The government pays no tax refunds now to anyone, so everyone just keeps paying taxes and gets none of it back. IVA, (Value Added Tax) is the big one here since exporters are supposed to get that returned, but no longer do. Many wineries’ credit accounts are in the 100s of thousand pesos amounts or more.
5) There is essentially a ban on imports. Equipment, barrels, corks, special label papers and inks are become next to impossible to obtain.
6) Faced with all this, consolidation is at hand. Big wineries with financial muscle and established markets are the likely winners. Boutique wineries need to be supported by the wine drinking world to stay in business.
7) Wineries are preparing for the unknown. If the government continues down the path that is unfolding, everyone is in great danger.

I have for a long while thought that the thing that could mark Malbec’s decline would not necessarily be a passing of it’s “fashion” rather it would be Argentina’s government making it so hard for the country to keep exporting it, that producers would simply drop out of the market.

We go into 2013 with our eyes wide open. With a little luck, the Argentine presidency won’t be able to dismantle the constitution that was modeled on the U.S.’s. Our rule of law has generally worked and persisted despite passing presidencies. I hope the same is true for Argentina.

To do your part, support small family wineries, wherever they may be. And if you drink Malbec, pick the Argentine small producer first. They need you now more than ever.

Thank you!

2012: Looking towards the end of the world

Something about 2012. Is it just me or are things so much more ominous this year? As I sit in Bodega Calle with a bottle of Ca de Calle nearby, I contemplate on the few short days since my arrival this harvest season. A couple weeks before my arrival, one winery employee leaves after 10 years with us, dissatisfied that he is no longer the only “key” employee in the company, that he in short has to respect reporting requirements on inventory movements, while at the same time he leaves under vague staff accusations that he may have stolen a pallet of Torrontés from a shipment made to a nearby cold storage facility. Unprovable of course, primarily because he did not prepare the correct documents required for the inventory transfer of this fateful shipment. Ironic. If “angel’s share” is wine lost to evaporation, what do you call this?

This morning I had a conversation with a long time Mendoza “bodeguero”. During the last 14 years they allowed their winery to build in the size of its administrative and winemaking staff as they pushed into new markets and strove to improve their wines with each harvest. We as faithful importers represent and inform on all sides of the market. We represent our buyer’s desire to have good quality wine for a good price while at the same time we try to make sure the wineries we represent get rewarded with adequate pricing for the quality products they produce. It is a hard balance at times. Today, I was told that in addition to laying off all the permanent staff outside the immediate family, they will need to raise their pricing 20% in order to survive the rampant Argentine inflation, (137% since 2007).

If 2011 marked the apex of the boom, then surely 2012 marks the pull back. As accurately forecast in the documentary Boom Varietal, (facebook.com/BoomVarietal), Argentina’s problem is not Yellow Tail, it was not the film Sideways. It is Argentina’s government. As I recall, the first push into the US wine market by Argentina in the 80′s was subdued not by an American disinterest in the country’s products, rather it was the Argentine government itself that messed up the economy so badly that wineries couldn’t afford to export their products. President Menem pushed the reset button in the late 90′s, but by then Argentina’s wineries had to start from the beginning all over again. I must ask, will we be doomed to repeat this history?

It is fitting that I sit towards the “end of the world” contemplating “the end of the world” of Argentina. It may of course not be the End Of The World, but certainly things are changing very quickly. My friend, the imperiled winery owner, said that he heard that the Presidenta doesn’t want to allow the peso to devalue “because it would strengthen her political opponents on the right.” It reminded me of our Republican congress for a second when they say as long as Obama fails, we win. Hey, anybody in politics these days care about their own country?

A rough straw poll seems to indicate that maybe close to 30% or more of the small wineries in Argentina may skip this year’s harvest or worse yet, forever close their doors. A growing number of wineries are for sale. Tough position and tricky to know what to do when 2012 seems to be setting up to be clearly a better harvest than 2011. A hot year again, no surprise there. Particularly in the famed Luján region and extending east from the mountains. The winner this year will be Valle de Uco. Higher altitude, with cooler nights and a longer growing season, the preference is becoming increasingly clear.

The fact that our winery is located in Luján gives us pause. The most important DOC wine region in Argentina is Luján de Cuyo. We had great illusions about qualifying for Luján DOC Malbec status, but now with the hot weather, I am uncertain. Better fruit is to be had farther south…

Today’s marks a tough day in the business of producing wine in Bodega Calle. We were ready to fill 90,000 bottles of 2011 Malbec, Cab/Sauv and Merlot. The quality of the glass bottles were so bad we had to stop the bottling and send everyone home. Our Argentine supplier, Cristalería Rosario, sent us bottles worse than I have ever seen in my life.

Don't buy bottles from Cristalería Rosario.

Of particular interest is the nipple on the bottle in the lower left. Is that where you are supposed to open it?
Industria Argentina can’t be the ongoing joke for all eternity. Please folks, let’s not fall apart so easily. We can do better! Until next time. Chau.

Hiking Lomas Blancas from Mendoza

This is an excellent full day hike for those that want some physical activity but don’t want to conquer Aconcagua or El Plata between asados and wine tasting. It is usually guided for tourists and therefore has little public information available, so I decided to provide some information on the hike because I couldn’t find any on the internet the first time I went. This is for the “adventurous”, but there is little risk of injury or getting “lost” there, (though it is quite high altitude so keep this in mind). To keep things simple, the best return is along the way you came. Also, remember to leave Mendoza early in the am so you have time to do the whole hike and be down before dark and bring plenty of water.

First, drive to Vallecitos Ski Area parking lot from Mendoza. It is a long 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours from Mendoza by car. I will not give directions here, but it is straight forward if you ask around.

Second, park your car at a safe place and walk up to the lodge. Facing the lodge and the mountain, on its right-most side is another small parking lot. From there you will see that the mountain is limited by a small ridge on the right that tapers back and around to the right. Go around the bottom of the ridge to the right leaving the ski lodge behind you. Stay on what is a primitive trail and stay high but not too high. Once you get to the ridge crest you will see that the trail descends into a gully. Walk down into it, staying high, following the trail and descending along the back side of the original ridge you saw from the lodge.

As you wind down the trail into the bottom of the ravine, (stay on the trail and beware loose rock and unsteady footing at times), you will see a narrow creek bed that you can now begin to ascend. Follow that and the trail upwards.
Begin Ascent Area

In colder months, this ice fall is created with piped spring water that freezes overnight. Pass these falls to your right as you ascend.

Continue up the trail and the ravine will open into a grassy valley and you will see a saddle or low pass way up in front. Notice the spring water seeping from the ground all around you. I have drunk the water and have been fine, but there are grazing cattle around so be careful and take water directly at the source.

Note that we are descending from the summit here, but you can clearly see the valley down below. This is the way you will be coming from as you head up to the pass I mentioned.

Once you get to the saddle (about an hour from the car), you can go right to Arenales, (the lower summit), or up left along the ridge to Lomas Blancas.

Here is a view looking down at the trail walking up the base of Lomas Blancas. Note, in the top right corner of this photo down below, you can see the Arenales summit.

If you go up Lomas Blancas, continue left at the saddle and wind up through jagged rock to the top. It is pretty straight forward.

Here is another view of the trail higher up.
High Approach

Once there, there is a great view of Mendoza and surroundings. Here is a picture of the summit marker cross and the views you get. (3850 meters or about 12,631 FASL).
Lomas Blancas Summit Cross
Stick a Southern Wine Group sticker on the cross for us and send us a picture! Would be much appreciated. (To get free stickers, send an email to info@southernwinegroup.com).

Getting home is the reverse of the climb up. Good luck, have fun and carry everything out, you carry in. Please stay on the trail and keep the trail nice for others.
Summit View into Mtns

Look for Guanacos while you are there. They are usually around. On the way home, stop and see our friends at Jerome Brewery. Tell Eduardo that I told you to stop by, enjoy a beer and some great German food!

Have Fun!

THE LETTER M FOR MALBEC

Malbec begins with “M”

“We only need to drink an abundant glass of black Malbec, from a good harvest and this inspires us to speak thus of this mystic wine”
by: Winemaker Angel Antonio Mendoza &
Winemaker Juan C. Rodriguez Villa

Malbec begins with “M” for Mendoza, brought to this land of Argentina by the hand of Tiburcio Benegas, the aristocratic governor and founder of Trapiche Winery in 1883.
Miguel Pouget, was one of the first French winemakers that consulted with the Benegas family. He planted French varietals to differentiate them from the “Spanish wines” of the period.
The generically named “French grape” was the variety most widely planted in Argentina at the end of the 19th century. The first vineyard owners planted according to the European tradition: every six red plants, one white variety of Semillon. In this way, a blend was made, that following the old winemakers, balanced the great concentration of the color of Malbec by lessening the marked roughness caused by the tannins.
While the first Malbecs were from Las Heras, in El Plumerillo and Panquehua, (the Mendoza river region at 2300 feet above sea level), it was in Maipu and Lujan de Cuyo, where Malbec was born. They are so memorable the Malbecs of Medrano, Barrancas, Cruz de Piedra, Lunlunta, Perdriel, Agrelo, Ugarteche, Vistalba, Las Compuertas, Drummond, and Chacras de Coria.
Then the foothills of Valle de Uco, express their intense character of ripe black berries and their profound bishop red. The Malbecs of San Carlos, La Consulta and Vista Flores are impressive because these grapes grow with very cool summer nights of less than 53°F.
In the south of Mendoza, in San Rafael, exists some privileged land, which expresses in the variety a spicy, menthol character.

“M” for Macho, because it was a manly red wine. It was drunk by more men than women. It also integrated the blends of table wines in the first 7 decades of the 20th century, where the culture of wine grew by the hand of the European immigrants.
The winemaking grandfathers, wet the pacifiers of their grandchildren with Malbec to sterilize them against Cholera and Salmonella and to make them more delicious. These legendary grandfathers, conserved their good memory and never used Viagra! A well set table with Malbec was enough. With more than 7 children, they worked the vineyards until well into their 70’s.
“…Old man, my beloved old man, born in the century of industry and red wine…”
My father was a lover of this red wine that my mother sent him to buy at the corner store that he enjoyed with his lunches and dinners.
This wine was from Malbec and I never thought it would be our life’s work during these last 38 years.

“M” for Manso, (Tame), with a red, violet color so impressive, but with a friendly, long taste. With medium acidity and soft tannins that envelope you tamely like the Mendocinos that produce them.
This quality is one of the most appreciated in the world of wine and is the reason that French investors came to Argentina; to bet on a variety that was not able to express itself or distinguish itself in the aristocratic soils of Bordeaux.
A rich Malbec competes with better results, against the virtues of a blend of Cabernet-Merlot of the Medoc.

“M” for Malleable. Because this grape adapts well to be able to create seductive wines, like Blanc de Noir, the base of solemn sparkling wines, and Rosés for appetizers and eastern foods. Simple varietal Malbecs, with 4 to 5 days of maceration on its skins, wines to be consumed in the year with their rich fruit expression that match well with everyday food. Those superb cellaring Malbecs, matured in oak, that impress the world and those that are the pride of Argentine winemakers.
Also it is possible to create intellectual wines for the study, for cigars and for fall gatherings of the style of Port, Passito, Ripasso, Ricioto and Amarone.
Malleable for its participation in noble red wine blends, single vineyard wines of all kinds and blends of Malbecs from various microclimates.
It is also malleable for its reflection of the terroir of Argentina with over 1250 miles of distance between the North and the South, an oasis of mountain rivers in the foothills of the Andes mountain range.

“M” for Morado, (Purple). This red varietal, possesses a distinguished and unique composition of anthocyanins, where it is malvidin that lends the violet purple pigment with red borders, which is stable during the first 3-4 years of life.
This character distinguishes itself from the rest of the red wines, (Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo), with different anthocyanins that are more unstable and rapidly show nuances of copper, ocher, and chocolate.
Its intense chromatic and purple pigment increases as the vineyard’s altitude rises on the solid eastern slope of the foothills of the Andes.
At 3280 feet above sea level, the most noble and biggest bodied Malbecs of Argentina are obtained. The synthesis of anthocyanins during the maturity of the grapes needs warm but not hot days. At 95° F, enzymatic activity of the phytochrome ceases. Also, cool nights of 59° F are required for biological compounds to be formed by photosynthesis the next day. The viticulture in altitude permits us to obtain Malbecs that are more notable.

“M” for Mujer, (Woman). Surely, beside every winery owner, every Argentine winemaker or producer of good Malbec, there is a noble woman that inspires and counsels him in each piece of work on this emblematic varietal.
But also today, Argentine Malbec, enjoys its creation by beautiful feminine hands of important, professional women, many of which were licensed by the Don Bosco College, by the Umaza Enology School and Mendoza’s Agrarian Science College.

“M” for Music. A great Malbec, tasted in the tranquility of the family table or in the aristocracy of the restaurant, is like an exciting symphony of chords and sensory notes that tranquilize the spirit and predispose an excellent digestion.
This wine is a psychic stimulant of intellectual activity; its vivacious character brings returns of optimism, sociability and it is a producer of happiness.
We have always understood and compared the great wines as a masterpiece conducted by an excellent director of orchestra, which is the winemaker.

“M” for Madrigal, (short lyrical poem) Also a noble Malbec, made with love by many hands: viticulturist, agronomist, vineyard operator and cellar hand, winemaker, lab technician, salesman, general manager, all remember the brief poetic composition in which is expressed an affection or delicate thought. At times this transforms into a “lyrical musical composition of many voices”, that after the second cup, acclaims its seductive and respectful honesty.

These “M”s, mark their genetic quality and distinguish themselves in each vineyard site of Argentina.
But also, this varietal has an “M” for Mala (Bad):
In deep soils, it expresses itself with vigor with big broad, overlapping leaves that hide the fruit from the sun betraying its disagreeable, herbaceous and bitter tannins. This ampelographic character also impacts the differentiation of fruitful buds of the next harvest, beginning to express through the years, an infertility that does not help the producer, because it lowers the income from the grape production of the vineyard through the appearance of male plants.
This excess of leaves also impacts the harvest by passing bitter flavors to the crushed grapes. So, the high-end wines need a selecting belt, prior to destemming or crushing.
Cold springs provoke an incomplete fruiting flower set. This is the economic reason for which Malbec did not prosper in Bordeaux.
In viticultural regions with temperate springs and deep, generous soils with high fertility of flower set, grapes grow with more than two seeds and of large size and volume. These bunches, weighing more than 200 grams at maturity, possess less concentration and components that lend varietal personality.
“With fat grapes, you will always produce lean wines”

Translated by: Kirk Ermisch, Southern Wine Group

Southern Wine Group & Rage Productions announce world premiere of Boom Varietal, a documentary on the rise of Argentine Malbec

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Bend, Oregon (September 29, 2011) – Southern Wine Group, (SWG) “Importers of Latin America’s Finest Wines” is pleased to announce the world premiere of Boom Varietal, a full-length documentary about Argentina’s Malbec wine, on October 7th, 2011 as an official selection at the 8th annual Bend Film Festival.

“The film has been a lot of work, but it has been rewarding to document what we have seen happening in Argentina over the past decade during Malbec’s introduction into the U.S. This film captures the lives of both the wine growers and the Malbec grape itself in a very honest and captivating way. This film will stand with the best wine documentaries ever produced,” said Kirk Ermisch, SWG’s President and the film’s Executive Producer.

Sky Pinnick, Rage Production’s owner and the film’s Director added, “We are very proud of this film. We spent eighteen months following the lives of various wine makers, growers, producers and field workers in Argentina, a culture we knew almost nothing about when we first started this project. We transported our RED digital cinema camera down to Argentina, which provided some challenges but also allowed us to capture some really beautiful cinematography. It wasn’t easy producing a film in a foreign country, but we were able to cross cultural barriers and tell an amazing story that I think people will connect with in any language.”

The buzz among wine connoisseurs and novices alike is one word – Malbec. Originally from France, Malbec found its perfect home, its perfect terroir in the dry Argentine climate. Its booming popularity has swept through the U.S. and the world, reviving a varietal that had been nearly lost. Boom Varietal will inspire your palate and a love for Argentina’s rich culture.

About Southern Wine Group
Southern Wine Group is the pioneering national wine importer and producer of fine wines from Latin America. SWG began operation in 2000 and was among the very first U.S. importers of Argentine Malbec and Torrontes in the country. They have since expanded over the last decade to include in the portfolio, “best of class” wines from leading boutique producers in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Mexico. Visit us at www.southernwinegroup.com.

About Rage Productions
Rage Productions has been producing award winning films, music videos and TV commercials since 1994. Their internationally distributed films have won awards such as Best Film, Best Core Film, Best Cinematography and Best Editing. Based in Bend, Oregon they offer a wide range of services from filming to editing to music composition. Learn more about Rage at: www.rageproductions.com.

For more information, see www.BOOMVARIETAL.com or contact Kirk Ermisch or Sky Pinnick directly.

Contact:
Kirk Ermisch
Southern Wine Group
kirk@southernwinegroup.com
Or
Sky Pinnick
Rage Productions
sky@rageproductions.com

See the release on the wire service

2011 Mendoza Harvest and Reflections on the State of the Industry

Hello everyone,
I don’t consider myself a “blogger” so I don’t update this very often. Nor, does there seem to be enough time in the day to allow to get to this as much as I’d like. However from time to time the need does seem to arise. Either someone surprises me by saying “hey you haven’t written anything for a while, why not?” or something happens that tends to grind in the back of my mind until I attempt to express it here or in private email form. So here goes, what’s on my mind, North American Summer 2011.

I am just finishing my harvest stay down here at Bodega Calle. It was our 10th harvest. I cannot believe it and I was kinda surprised to realize this, (I was at Vina Altair in Chile when I asked them how many harvests they had done, Ana Maria the expert winemaker there told me, “this is our 10th harvest, we started in 2002″ to which I replied, “gosh, I guess this is our 10th harvest in Mendoza too”). 10 years. Wow, what a ride. We haven’t yet had any kind of big party to celebrate. We just keep our heads down and keep working. Seems to be our character. Eventually we will have to organize something…

I personally have been involved with 13 harvests in Mendoza. I have seen better harvests than others, but Mendoza generally delivers on the promise. Not at all like other major growing areas in the world. That said, to understand harvests in Mendoza think of a tuning device that has 4-5 knobs. One for early harvest frosts, one for dry, scorching summer heat, one for hail, and one for harvest time rain. If you want to throw in one for Zonda, the super-blustery winds that happen from time to time that can blow off grape flowers, then we could throw that in too.

2011 the knob was way up on spring frosts in Valle de Uco. Up on Zonda, way up, then suddenly down on heat, up on severe hail in Valle de Uco and Agrelo, and down on harvest rains. What we got was a very reduced crop in Valle de Uco and parts of Lujan de Cuyo, (Agrelo). Grapes came in substantially late because of the cool, dry harvest conditions. Because of the reduced yields in Valle de Uco, quality was very good with deep black red colors that were out of this world. Lujan, did not have its best year. Not a bad year by any means, but not the best. Yields were standard, and the early hot summer heat seemed to last too long for quality’s sake in Lujan. Once the nights got cooler, it was too late to really help things.

I guess you could say that it was a bit of a “global warming” harvest. Intense climatic episodes, with lower altitudes getting blasted too much for their own good with summer heat, albeit that the duration of the heat wasn’t as long as feared.

We’ll see how it all goes from here. Despite what I said, we have a lot of great quality wine (having bought lots of good fruit this year), to watch going forward. We were generally pleased with everything and glad to have another harvest under our belt.

The climatic conditions of harvest this year had a huge impact on grape prices once you factored in demand for Malbec grapes. Throw cronic double digit Argentine inflation into the mix and the continued weak dollar and you got a pretty tricky situation for everyone. On the bright side, it means Argentines will get what they want, diversity in sales. As Malbec prices move up, the consumer world will be willing to purchase lower priced, other varietal wines when they can get equal quality non-Malbec wines for a few dollars less on the shelf.

The silver lining may be indeed that Argentina firmly evolves beyond the “one-varietal” “one-hit-wonder” status that it seems to have laid before itself. I won’t say I know the content of John Gillespie‘s speech at the Foro Vitivinicula in Sept this year, but the title I understand has something to do with a consumer’s willingness to “trade-down” when prices of their favorite wines go up in price. Basically, wine drinkers are only brand or varietal loyal to a point. Wine drinking is generally about exploration and if your staple wine gets too expensive then that is a good reason to try something new!

In almost 14 years being involved in Argentina, Malbec was the most expensive per kilo on average than ever before; and I mean in real dollar terms too. Just to get a snapshot of what I am dealing with: Malbec grape prices were up almost 50% this year; and this after a string of years of grape prices increase. Bottles have effectively doubled in price in 12 months. As have cardboard boxes, and labels. Labor? Remember the stereotype that Latin America had cheap labor? Forget about it. Now, Argentina’s minimum wage is nearly that of the USA. Would have anyone thought this would happen so soon? The decision for wineries this year is a true ‘rock and a hard place’ proposition: Make no money this year at the winery or mark up prices, and risk having the consumer, “trade down” and stop buying your product. Not a fun place to be.

Such a tight spot unfortunately brings out the corruption in those that it comes naturally to. In Argentina, wineries that have been in business many years have an accumulated “number” of Malbec volume built up. Understand that in Argentina, if it comes in as “Malbec” and goes out in a red blend and not as “Malbec” the Malbec volume “number” stays on the winery books. Very useful in this time of high prices and high demand that you might have a little bit of Merlot and Cab laying around and want to export it as “Malbec” to one of the more price point conscious importers looking for a deal.

Therefore, beware those $6.99-9.99 wines marked as “Malbec” on the front label. I would say that it is virtually impossible to make a 100% varietal Malbec wine these days at the above prices confronted with the real costs associated with making such a product. If the wine isn’t on close out or from a vintage dating prior to 2010 then forget about it. It isn’t pure Malbec my friends.

Good Malbec starts at about $14.99 retail these days, still a great deal. Things start to get interesting at about $18.99 and above. Still a deal when these wines compete with the best wines of the world. Unfortunately, Malbec is no longer “cheap” so who knows what is about to happen to volume. At only about 2% of the import market, one would think that continued growth is probable, (especially since Australian Shiraz grew to be about 7% of the same market) . But like everything from Argentina over the last 80 years, it is the Argentine’s (READ lousy Government) themselves that seem to always mess up a good thing. So muchachos, where do we go from here?

Another thing I have been working on this year is a film with Sky Pinnick of Rage Films on the Boom of Malbec. It will be called Boom Varietal we think, (see http://www.Boomvarietal.com). It hopes to explore and answer this question.

Finally, unlike most other boutique importers of Argentine wines, we have always sought to sell more than Malbec and we have always sought to sell more than wines from Argentina. We sell wines from 4 Latin American countries now and have successfully created niches for them. We sell a diversity of different varietal wines from Argentina and have done so since the beginning. I think that Malbec will remain important for us as a business and for wine drinkers around the world. However, now more than any other time before, it makes sense to explore other wines from Argentina, not to mention all the great wines to be discovered in Chile, Uruguay, Mexico and beyond.

Happy tasting!
Kirk