Grupo Peñaflor: 2020 may be turning point for Argentine wine

Grupo Peñaflor believes that 2020, which has seen one of Argentina’s earliest harvests coupled with a global pandemic, could be a turning point for Argentine wine as sales and exports rise.

The wine group, which owns brands including Trapiche and El Esteco, has said 2020 had been “surreal”. Celebrating el dia del vino argentino (Argentine wine day) on 24 November, the company highlighted its confidence in the future of the country’s wine industry, citing the latest industry figures.

Figures from the National Institute of Viticulture show that from January to October this year, exports Argentina wine exports rose 35.7% to 337.5 million litres, 88.8 million litres more than was exported in 2019. The main contributor was the rise in bulk wine shipments, which rose by a whopping 90.5%.

In 2019 wine exports rose by 7.3%, reaching a six-year high. However, despite this rise in volume, value exports of Argentine wine last year declined for the third year in a row, with the average price per litre reaching US$2.81 after five years above the $3 threshold.

Grupo Peñaflor pointed to several hurdles that the country faced, including high tariffs on exports to the EU, China, Korea, Japan and Mexico, as well as a recession, which has impacted overseas promotion. It claims Argentina still has “enormous untapped potential” for exporting as it is “the least internationalised wine-producing country in the southern hemisphere.

Argentina exports an average of 20% of its total wine production, in contrast to Australia, New Zealand and Chile that export 60%, 70% and 90% respectively. Malbec alone accounts of 70% of the wine Argentina sends overseas.

Pablo Ghiorzi, export director at Trapiche, said: “Malbecquization is a concept that we hear more frequently within our industry. Although Malbec still has a lot of potential in different terroirs and styles within our own country, we must conquer world markets with other varieties of wine more common for wine consumers. Today Argentina is producing the best Cabernets, Pinots and Chardonnays of all time.”

Grupo Peñaflor gives the example of Opi Sadler, who runs La Mascota winery, who has had “huge success” exporting Cabernet Sauvignon to the US. Winemakers are also pushing the boundaries and making wine from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and other white varieties in Patagonia, while in the north white grape Torrontés and red grapes such as Cabernet Franc excel in the provinces of Salta and Catamarca.

Alejandro Pepa, chief winemaker of El Esteco, which is based in Cafayate, said: “Last year, the main destinations for Argentine Torrontés exports were the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Denmark and Japan. As in its origin in the Cuyo vineyards, the Torrontés is also making a place in the preference of consumers as it grew 15% in shipments between 2010 and 2019.”

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