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News - 05.08.11

Russia Importers in Search of Argentine Wines

Eight companies which buy, import and distribute wines in Russia participated in the Business Rounds held between July 25 and July 29 in Mendoza and San Juan organized by Wines of Argentina, in collaboration with WofA’s representative in Russia, Anton Moiseenko.

The purpose of this activity was to create business opportunities for Argentine wineries so that they may commence exports to the Russian market, and in the case of wineries that are currently exporting, to increase their volume of exports.

Nowadays, the Russian Federation is particularly interested in the wines from the so called New World, with a price-quality relationship that obviously favors, among other countries, Argentina and Chile, whose wines have much better prices than most European wines. According to statistical information on the 2010 import volume (in millions of liters from January to September), France leads the ranking of exports, and Italy comes second, followed by Spain. Argentina ranks tenth.

The following companies were invited to the Business Rounds: Perfect, JSC United Distributors, Rusimport, Vintage-M, OKV, ZAO Interprodukt-96, Vinoterra and Azbuka Vkusa. Wines of Argentina talked to two of the importers, whose comments are reported below.

Vjaceslavs Izmailovs, from JSC United Distributors

This is a well-respected company, founded in 1997. It has a wide range of wines and spirits (it sells more than 1000 wines) in its portfolio and works with prestigious brands and wineries, competing with market leaders such as MBG and DP Trade, among others. It currently sells three Argentine brands: Achával Ferrer, NQN and Las Moras.

 “Being here in Mendoza we can get a better understanding and make a deeper analysis of the different winemaking philosophies of the wineries, and not only get to know their products but also the people behind the making of each wine, what they think, what they do, how they communicate what they do, their different perspectives, etc. It’s been very interesting to discover all these things,” said the buyer. “We’ve been selling some Argentine brands for several years, and now we are in the process of expanding our business and trying to develop a new portfolio. We’d like to know what your wineries can offer and then choose what we like. We need to know what type of wine people want and then see what we’ll offer them. We need to define very clearly what kind of wines we’ll get, and that’s a decision we’ll be able to make once we return to our country and can analyze all the different options. It takes time to make this kind of decisions in Russia.”

Vjaceslavs considered that “the Russian market is ripe for Argentine wines,” though he stressed the lack of wine education among Russian people. “We are quite new to wine culture. As it’s widely known, Russia has been seriously affected by high levels of alcohol consumption and consumers are slowly acquiring good drinking habits.” The visitor added: “I’ve tasted quite a few wines, especially blends, and we’re very interested in some wineries.”

WofA also talked to Roman Ivanchuk from Vinoterra.

This company was established as a wine distributor in 2005 by an international corporation with varied business activities. It offers a highly distinct portfolio of products, including mainly top quality French, Spanish and Italian wines.

“This is my first trip to Mendoza and Argentina, and actually to the Southern Hemisphere. In just a few days, I had the chance to visit a large number of wineries offering 7 or 8 wine lines, different wine styles, prices and types of vinification: entry level, medium level and premium wines, which can easily compete with Grand Cru Bordeaux wines. The experience has been really interesting. This is something new and unusual to us, as we have never marketed New World wines. We’ve always focused on Italian, Spanish and French wines. This is a new project for us. In Russia, there are hundreds of entry level wine brands from Argentina. So now I’m interested in incorporating “designer wines” and top quality wines, even for some of our business with the private sector, which includes banks, financial companies and airline companies,” said the buyer.

The visitor said that Argentine wines are popular and well-positioned in the Russian market. Yet, he added that Argentina still needs to do a lot of work to be able to compete with Spanish and French wines. “Broadly speaking, this New World wine country has between 15% and 18% of the market share and competes with Chile and Australia, among others. You need to do more to have a stronger presence in the market.

“In general, Argentina is famous for its Malbec in the case of reds and Torrontés in the case of whites, but I’ve tasted incredibly good Viogniers, which I think have a promising future ahead. There are hundreds of Malbecs in the market. You should continue trying to come up with interesting blends, including for example, Bonarda, Petit Verdot and Merlot, which are very interesting wines and not very well known in Russia. I believe that once I get back to Russia, we’ll be buying wines I liked from different wineries. I think I’ll be able to take along very interesting products,” concluded Román.