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Wine gaucho Crozier urges UK to embrace second wave of niche Argentine wineries

Published:  09 March, 2018

Speaking at an Alternative Argentina tasting in London yesterday (8 March), Argentine wine expert Phil Crozier outlined the opportunities for the country to expand its offer with more focus on its diversity and smaller producers.

“I think we are reaching a maturity in the market for bigger producers, but there is room, a niche, for a second wave of smaller wineries to come over and add more interest to the general offer,” said Crozier at a seminar titled ‘Argentina under the radar’, exploring varieties beyond Malbec.

Conceding that it is more difficult for smaller producers to compete without big marketing budgets, Crozier, who presides over the UKs premier Argentine portfolio at Gaucho Group, nonetheless urged such wineries to invest in the UK, saying that they “should take a long term view”.

“Argentina in the UK represents just over 2% of the market in terms of value, but Malbec has been the fastest growing grape for the past few years, with Argentina [commanding] the third highest spend per bottle of wine in the UK (New Zealand is number one).”

Commenting on certain resistant wine purists that are sniffy about styles popular with the public, Crozier reminded the audience: “We need wines like Malbec and Sauvignon Blanc because these market leaders get people interested in wines – and let’s not forget the wine market here is in decline – so thank God for those varieties, as we can then interest people in other styles of wine.”

Fresh, more restrained styles of Torrontes, crisp Sauvignon Blancs, poised Chardonnays, minerally Garnacha Blanca, varietally pure Cabernet Sauvignons, aromatic and enticing Cabernet Francs, juicy Bonarda, plus a Mediterranean varieties led by Syrah and Grenache, along with fresher, low or unoaked styles of Malbec, were among the varieties being championed by Crozier and producers at the broader Alternatives tasting.

Crozier made the point that the high average spend on the category, although currently led by Malbec, could well translate into higher than average spend on rival varieties and styles from Argentina as consumers are already happy to pay a premium for what they perceive as a reliable and quality-focused country.

“Argentina is the 5th biggest industry in world, and Malbec has been the fastest growing grape variety in the world for the last five years, with more male drinkers, but increasingly attracting female drinkers, and producing more feminine styles,” said Crozier.

“There has been incredible improvement in quality, dramatic and fast, over the last 20 years, things have changed so quickly,” he added.

“Argentina is an old wine producing country situated in the New World, also with a very vibrant domestic market, because Argentina makes wines for Argentineans, so there is no manipulation of wines for particular markets – so you have a purity of Argentina and soul that goes into the wines.”

The Alternative Argentina tasting also highlighted that sparkling wines are a big part of the trade in Argentina, with Charmat styles that are fuller bodied than their Italian rivals potentially offering opportunities for the fast growing UK sparkling sector.

However, it was the aromatic purity and appealing drinkability of Argentine Cabernet Franc that stole the day at the tasting, pointing to a new classic from this diverse country.