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LWF: Old world meets new with Argentine Gauchezco

Published:  11 May, 2016

Argentina and Malbec may have some way to go in the UK market to rival New Zealand's key grape, Sauvignon Blanc. 

Argentina and Malbec may have some way to go in the UK market to rival New Zealand's key grape, Sauvignon Blanc.

But while many winemakers are pushing single variety Malbecs in the same way that New Zealand has had huge success in the UK with Sauvignon Blanc, Uco Valley and Salta Province winery Gauchezco is focusing on its Malbec blends.

As with most Arentinian wineries, Gauchezco - which is part of Connoisseur Estates - focuses heavily on Malbec, but is also experimenting with grape varieties such as cabernet franc and petit verdot.

One example is the Gauchezco Plata Malbec, which blends 70% Malbec with 30% Cabernet Franc.

Eric Anesi, owner of Gauchezco, showcased their portfolio at the London Wine Fair last week.

He said that Malbec was responsible for putting Argentina on the map, but that Gauchezco's philosophy is based around a desire to diversify their offering with mixing the old world and the new.

Anesi said: "Malbec got Argentina's foot in the door. But we're not limiting ourselves just to Malbec. A lot of our portfolio is old meets new world."

New Zealand is a third of the size of Argentina but its market share in the UK is currently triple that of Argentina - with the majority of that market share coming from single grape variety Sauvignon Blanc.

Gauchezco has also been expanding itself internationally over the past few years, along with other wineries, thanks to financial problems in Argentina.

The price of Argentinean wines skyrocketed domestically and many wineries were forced to sell abroad at lower price points and in high volumes for minimal profit margins.

"Argentina never had to export wines before because the domestic market was so big," Anesi added. "But now things are changing. We're now exporting more and more."

Around 140 Argentine producers are currently selling to the UK, with many looking to increase their presence.

The vineyard that became Gauchezco was founded in 1881 by the Governor of Mendoza, Tiburcio Benegas in Barrancas, Maipú.

Originally from Italy, the Anesi family used to make Zinfanzel non-commercially, before Eric Anesi moved to Mendoza at the age 27 in order to fulfil the family ambition of starting their own winery.