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Argentine Wines Enjoy Strong Presence On Impact’s Latest “Hot Prospects” List

September 25, 2014

After declining slightly in 2012, Argentine wines enjoyed a healthy rebound in the U.S. market last year, with bottled shipments up 5% to 6.1 million cases, according to Impact Databank. With an ongoing focus on the country’s signature Malbec varietal, top category players such as E&J Gallo’s Alamos and The Wine Group’s Trapiche continue to enjoy success, with both demonstrating double-digit growth and earning Impact “Hot Brand” honors this year. Now a growing number of smaller Argentine entrants are also making their presences felt.

“Argentina has been a hot discovery category for the past couple years, and while it’s getting to the point where it’s a little flooded, it’s still growing,” says Dennis Kreps, co-owner of Quintessential Wines, which markets Impact “Hot Prospect” winners Valentin Bianchi and New Age in the U.S.

Valentin Bianchi, which features four Argentine varietals retailing at $10-$30 a bottle, was up 16% last year to 239,000 cases. The brand has been led largely by its Malbec, but according to Kreps, Valentin Bianchi’s Cabernet Sauvignon is also starting to gain notable traction. Portfoliomate New Age, meanwhile, offers a white, rosé and red priced at $11.99 a bottle, and is thriving in part through its use in a signature drink called The Tincho, which involves serving the wine over ice with a squeeze of lime. Last year, New Age rose 17% to reach 165,000 cases in the U.S.

Another Argentine Hot Prospect, Winebow’s Tilia ($9.99), was up 45% to 145,000 cases in 2013, with its Malbec accounting for around half of sales and its Malbec-Syrah blend comprising another 20%. Encouraged by Tilia’s success, Winebow recently extended the brand with a higher-end red blend, available in California exclusively at BevMo. The blend is set to go nationwide in 2015 as part of a new “premium select” tier, which is expected to help propel the brand to 200,000 cases within five years, according to Winebow Imports director of brand management Frank Paredes.

Other brands on a growth curve include Constellation’s Diseño and Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits’ Ruta 22, both Hot Prospects specializing in Mendoza-sourced Malbec retailing at around the $10-$12 range. Diseño, which in 2010 had a U.S. volume of 42,000 cases, was up 22% in 2013 to hit 132,000 cases. Ruta 22, meanwhile, has grown its volume from just 9,000 cases in 2010 to nearly 60,000 cases, including 16% growth last year.

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