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UK wine importers hit by Argentinean strikes

Published:  06 August, 2008

Strikes and road blockades that crippled much of Argentina have impacted UK wine importers, with one major buyer waiting more than four months for a delivery.
TextStrikes and road blockades that crippled much of Argentina have impacted UK wine importers, with one major buyer waiting more than four months for a delivery.

With main roads being blocked, exports from the South American country have been slow to leave the country, despite the strike ending in June.

Protests had been on-and-off since March, when the Argentinean Senate announced plans for a tax hike on grain exports. This led to farmers protesting.

Months of disruption ended after the Senate rejected the proposals in June.

The action has affected the wine industry and some do not expect the situation to improve for another couple of months.

Solano Penalenzi, managing director at Hispa Merchants, is an Argentinean, Chilean and Spanish wine specialist, based in London.

He is still waiting on several containers, with brands Tapiz, NQN, and Finca La Anita and Domingo Hermanos at sea.

With each container consisting of 1,100 boxes, Penalenzi is waiting on more than 14,000 bottles.

"One order that I placed at the end of March - four months ago - is still there," he said. "Supplies have been difficult to get and orders slow, and now there is a backlog."

James Forbes, Wines of Argentina UK director, said that the four month delay was probably more a shipping problem, rather than an issue relating to the strikes.

"There is a backlog, but the people I have spoken to have not been affected. There have been minor delays, but nothing serious."

However, restaurant chain Gaucho said it has been affected by the lack of Argentinean wine making it to UK shores.

Phil Crozier, Gaucho wine buyer, is waiting on three containers. "It has not affected our sales, but it has impacted the number of wines we have available," he said.

Bibendum Wine in London, said it had experienced some delays "but nothing as bad as we thought it would be".

Polly Long, Argento trade marketing manager, said that despite being a "tough and stressful time" the company "had tried to manage the situation as best it could".

by Deven Pamben

This article first appeared in Harpers magazine. Follow this link to subscribe to the publication.

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