Wine datapoint of the day

By Felix Salmon
June 20, 2009

From the WSJ wine column:

In the first four months of the year, Argentina’s imports rose yet another 31% by volume, overtaking imports from France, which dropped more than 8%.

The US now imports more Argentine wine than French wine? Wow. I haven’t been able to track down the figures — trade.gov is down all weekend for “scheduled maintenance” — but this is a huge development, I think, especially since French wines, for my money, have never been better value. But I generally stick to the southeast, which I guess never accounted for much in the way of French imports.

There’s certainly much more variety in French wines than in Argentine wines — but maybe that’s precisely why the Argies are doing so well: they’re becoming a known quantity, predictable in a way that French wines are not. But in any case, at the margin reduced demand for French wine means cheaper French wine, which is surely a good thing, while increased demand for Argentine wine doesn’t seem to have driven up the price of Malbec particularly, and good Malbec is becoming much easier to find, to boot. So I’m counting this as a welcome development on all fronts.

Incidentally, if you’re in New York on June 30, do come along to a wine contest I’m hosting down by South Street Seaport; it should generate some very interesting price/quality data. No Malbecs, though: this one’s white wine only.

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