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If you live in the U.S. (and chances are high that if you’re reading this, you are in the U.S.), then it’s likely that you’ve been drinking some low-priced Malbec wine lately.
Don’t take my word for it – for some hard data on Malbec drinking trends in the U.S., you can check out a recent article by Laura Saieg on WineSur.com:
“According to a report issued by Nielsen, in the last 52 weeks, the consumption of Malbec grew by 60%. This makes Malbec the best performing variety in the US market… In 2009, in spite of the pronounced decline of American economy, there was a consumption increase of 6 million cases with respect to 2008. Most of these cases were within the retail price bracket of under USD 10 per bottle. This was due to the fact that, in response to the crisis, consumers changed their habits and chose less expensive wines. Americans changed from consuming less expensive bottles to focusing on obtaining the best possible value. Restaurant wine sales fell by 6% to 9% this year as consumers, under tight budgets, stopped dining out and preferred to stay at home and buy wine at wine stores.”
Maybe you’ve had one (or several) of those extra 72 million bottles of Malbec consumed in the good ol’ U.S. of A. last year? Looks like we can’t get enough of the stuff.
What’s most interesting, from a marketing / consumption / trending standpoint, is that you probably had that bottle at home while overall you were drinking less expensive wine (in both senses of the term).
By any measure, that’s a big coop for Malbec producers during the global recession, and it will be interesting to see if the trend continues. It’s unclear from the WineSur.com article if most of the Malbec that we Americans gulped down was from Argentina, but it’s not unreasonable to conclude that.
Which might be why the French, who invented the stuff, are coming (possibly quite late) to Malbec bandwagon party…
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Last week, Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine ran a featured story titled “CORK Through the Media’s Eyes: Have wine writers put a cork in their criticism of bark stoppers?” written by WineCurmudgeon.com’s Jeff Siegel.
The story (in which I’m briefly quoted) asks whether or not the natural cork stopper industry has reached the point in which cork taint is largely a thing of the past. I provide the role of “contrarian opinion” in that I still see the rate of cork taint as an issue with which the cork industry needs to more effectively deal.
I’ve got nothing against natural cork closures, mind you. In fact, I suppose that I prefer them in a nostalgic, “Django Reinhardt playing softly in the background while I retire into my brushed-canvas sage Pottery Barn love seat” kind of way. I have grown totally convinced that screwcap enclosures are totally sound for long-term storage of fine wines, and I sure as sh*t don’t like synthetic corks and wouldn’t trust them to keep a wine long-term any further than I could comfortably spit a rat (don’t visualize that if you can help it – nasty).
I think for me this is a problem of “once bitten, twice shy” in that I’ve encountered what I consider far too much cork taint-affected wines – while the percentage is tiny, it’s still too high; certainly higher than what we’d consider acceptable in other food-related products.
I’d love to hear your take on this – is cork taint going the way of the dinosaur? Or is it alive and (un)well in your cellar?
It’s often been cited that all 50 U.S. states make wine in some capacity (though not all make their wine from grapes). But outside of CA, WA, OR, and NY, only a handful of the remaining 46 states have any real public eye affixed on them in terms of seeking out quality wine. VA, PA, and TX are among the ‘second tier’, but few are running out to scoop up FL wines just yet.
Same with AZ. However, a couple of prominent AZ folk have been out to change the world’s view of the Arizona wine scene.
On February 19th, another wine film hits the big screen: Blood Into Wine, directed by Ryan Page and Christopher Pomerenke, chronicles the efforts of Tool front man (and Caduceus Cellars owner) Maynard James Keenan and Page Springs Cellars owner Eric Glomski to bring recognition to the budding AZ wine industry.
According to www.azstronghold.com, the joint venture of Keenan and Glomski, their mission is “to put Arizona on the fine wine map.” It looks like they’re bringing out the full PR machine to help them, and the movie will feature guests such as hotter-than-the-AZ-desert-itself Milla Jovovich. Wine Specatator’s James Suckling also makes an appearance (but I don’t think he’s hot).
Will Blood Into Wine do for the AZ wine scene what Sideways did for CA Pinot Noir? I suppose we’ll find out in February, but I wouldn’t go out and liquidate the 401k and bet it all on AZ wine industry stock just yet. Keenan has star power and street cred, and Jovovich has powers of extreme hotness, but it’s unlikely that Blood Into Wine will see distribution that is closer to the levels of Merlove and Mondovino than Sideways or Bottle Shock. But it just may leapfrog the publicity factor of AZ a few years when it comes to fine wine recognition, or at least brand recognition for Keenan and Glomski’s wineries.
Got an opinion on AZ wine, wine movies, Tool, Suckling, or the hotness of Milla Jovovich? Shout it out in the comments!