Jennifer Luk
The views expressed in db Reader do not represent the views of the drinks business.

Malbec momentum in Hong Kong

Malbec World Day has once again highlighted the growing significance of Argentina’s most important grape variety to Hong Kong’s wine consumers, writes Jennifer Luk.

Malbec World DayMalbec is without doubt Argentina’s flagship variety by now.  According to statistics provided by Wines of Argentina, the export volume of bottled Malbec wine ranked no.1 in 2015 and up by 5.2% as compared with 2014.  The no.2 varietal was Cabernet Sauvignon, yet with a drop of 7% as compared with 2014.  In terms of 9L cases in 2015, Malbec outnumbered Cabernet Sauvignon by almost 6 times.

This year marked the 6th edition of Malbec World Day, a celebratory event initiated by Wines of Argentina to promote Argentine Malbec around the world.  April 17th is the date chosen to celebrate the classic grape varietal brought into Argentina from France on this day in 1853.

Started from April 9th in Buenos Aires, more than 70 events will be held in over 70 cities and 54 countries across the globe in April.  In Hong Kong, the Consulate General of the Argentine Republic in Hong Kong and Macau has organized a walk-around tasting and masterclass to showcase Argentine Malbec to end consumers.

Participants joining the masterclass include both beginners who are occasional drinkers or social drinkers, and enthusiasts who have been moving up the ladder of wine studies.  So, what is Argentine Malbec to them?  At the beginning of the session, some answers include “I have never tried Argentine wines”, “I don’t know much about Argentine Malbec as I seldom drink them”, “I have bought and drank some before, but I did not think they were good.  I am sure there are some good ones; however I don’t know how to pick and where to buy” and “I would love to learn more about Malbec from Argentina”.  By the end of tasting the six presented wines, the common answer went, “there are more yet to discover about Argentine Malbec.”

Malbec World Day 2

The six wines were divided into two flights, with each as a representative wine of a specific topic.  The first flight was more about the fruit characteristics as the three wines were matured in 3,500L untoasted foudres, 50% French oak barrels/ 50% stainless steel tanks, and 100% second use French oak barrels respectively; wines in second flight were aged in new French wine barrels for 12 months or more.  For those who have had Argentine Malbec in Hong Kong prior to the masterclass, they saw the second flight as more typical Argentine Malbec: ‘powerful red wine with flavours from the oak barrels’, whereas the first flight seemed rather ‘strange’ for Argentine Malbec.  To consumers who are new to Argentine wines or Argentine Malbec, they were all surprised by the good quality and diverse styles of Argentine Malbec.

In fact, after 8 years being a city with zero wine duty, Hong Kong has truly become a wine hub with all sorts of wine styles from different countries available in the market.  Hong Kong’s wine lovers have been overwhelmed with the choices in front of them, regardless of their level of wine education received.  Like Argentine wines which have not been the top-of-mind wines for most consumers, a lot of effort has to be put on presenting wines to consumers and educating them about what the Argentine wine offerings are in order to grow the market.

In the past, there were only small-scale of Argentine wine dinners organized by individual importers or co-organized by importers and the wineries they represent.  Since 2012, the Consulate General of the Argentine Republic in town has organized the Argentina Festival to promote Argentine food, wine and culture.  Wine activities held in 2015 include Argentina Pavilion at Wine & Dine Festival, wine dinners at hotels for public, and private wine tastings for members of some clubs, etc.  In 2016, in addition to the effort by the local Consulate General office, Wines of Argentina will be launching a wine education program in Hong Kong.

The presented wines (and respective topic) were:

  1. ALTO LAS HORMIGAS Appellation Gualtallary 2013 (“Terroir project”)
  2. MENDEL Lunta Malbec 2013 (“Old vines”)
  3. DOMINIO DEL PLATA Ben Marco Malbec 2013 (“Argentina Wine Awards 2016: Malbec Trophy”)
  4. DON MANUEL VILLAFAÑE Malbec Reserve 2013 (“Malbec & oak”)
  5. LUIGI BOSCA Malbec O.C. 2013 (“DOC – regional appellation”)
  6. TRAPICHE Terroir Series Orellana de Escobar Malbec 2010 (“Single Vineyard Project”)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters