Roberto de la Mota and Annabel Sielecki are partners of Mendel Wines, a winery exporting over 90% of its production to the foreign market. This worldwide well-known winemaker highlights the situation viticulture is going through.
In general, what is your opinion of Argentina’s main markets for bottled wines?
The United States is still our most important market. Besides, Canada is presented as a strong destination, with an interesting average price.
In relation to Brazil, the situation remains complex. Licenses are taking 60 days, making exports very slow. Brazilians have an important bureaucracy, being to the detriment of a flowing trade.
Chile and Argentina have been the major suppliers in volume and this will continue so.
Finally, Latin America has been another market Argentina has focused on. Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela are destinations that are becoming consolidated.
Do you worry about the growth of bulk wine exports, to the detriment of bottled products?
On the one hand, the boost experienced by wine in bulk corresponds to the volume of wine previously consumed in the domestic market. Faced with this situation, I think it is positive for Argentina, as it leads to a significant flow of currency.
However, there is another juicy percentage of the boost corresponding to the replacement of the bottled wine. Here is where Argentina is in danger. Bulk wine is a commodity that loses identity and has no support of terroir.
What are your prospects for the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013?
Our aim is to maintain the markets and consolidate some others, such as Eastern Europe and Asia. We will achieve it provided we keep the quality of our products.
Do you think Argentina should continue gambling on Malbec?
The country should go on focusing on Malbec, along with other varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, which is very well-developed in some terroirs of Argentina and it can always be exported, obviously competing worldwide. On the other hand, Bonarda is a very interesting variety that is highly accepted by consumers. Nonetheless, these varietal wines will not be on a par with the figures in volume Malbec registers today, they can only accompany it.
Furthermore, I think blends of Malbec and other grape varieties are a great alternative for Argentina. Awards and recognitions won in the last year give proof of this.
Lastly, among reds, there are non-traditional varieties such as Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Pinot Noir, gaining a place in the globe.
In the case of whites, Torrontés is Argentina’s indisputable white because of its excellence; followed by Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Our challenge for 2013 is that Argentina starts to talk about geographical indications. A Malbec from Luján de Cuyo is not the same as a Malbec from Perdriel, Altamira or Cafayate. We should work harder on the concept of terroir, as we are in a growth stage.