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Premium Argentine Winery Argento Targets U.S.

June 23, 2011

Mendoza’s Argento Wine Company is a well-established international player, selling 750,000 cases annually across 55 countries, but it’s only now training its focus on the U.S., where the Argentine wine category has never been hotter. Argento—a venture between U.K. importer Bibendum and local Argentine player Bodegas Esmeralda—currently counts the U.K. as its largest market (where it’s among the biggest Argentine brands), but believes its premium profile and focus on lesser-known varietals like Bonarda and Torrontes will help it stand apart in the U.S., where it’s imported by Lion Nathan USA.

Speaking to Shanken News Daily recently, Argento chief winemaker Nick Goldschmidt said, “Malbec has built the Argentine category in the U.S., but I’m not really convinced American consumers are in love with Malbec’s taste profile itself, because a lot of Malbecs sold in the States are blended with Bonarda.” Argento counts Malbec among its line of varietals, which are selling for $13 a bottle in the U.S. (and also markets a Reserva Malbec at $16), but sees opportunity for Bonarda to gain a piece of the action, believing its softer approach is geared to the U.S. palate. On the white wine side, Argento is playing up its cool climate Pinot Grigio and Torrontes varietals.

Goldschmidt also believes Mendoza can be a high-quality producer of Cabernet Sauvignon in the U.S. and a meaningful rival to California in the category. “As quality improves on the Cabernets coming out of Argentina, it’s going to be harder and harder for California to match in the sub-$20 segment,” he says.

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