Consumer buying decisions & the 100% Mendoza Malbec

Isn’t it funny how some people see a multi-grape blend as inferior. Not that I’m absolutely sure it put anyone off our previous Argentine Malbec-Shiraz blend, not consciously anyway, but just last week our new-look red (pictured right) and white under the Tesoro de los Andes label landed into the shop with a great reception from ourselves and customers alike.

What will be interesting to see is how sales compare over the next twelve months for this line. We expect to increase our turnover this year, building on our growth from our first two full years in business, but taking this into account, it is possible to find a relative sales trend that I suspect might point towards two things:

1. Single varietal wines are more popular

2. Our buying decisions are massively influenced by labels

As soon as Mike and I cracked open the first case we said this is going to be a winner. A sub €10, excellent drinking 100% Malbec from Argentina is something people want and we regularly get asked for in so many ways. Our response in the past was “well, yes, but…”, pointing to the Shiraz component in the previous blends. I actually thought the Shiraz element brought a nice dimension to it, but when people go to Argentina for red, they want Malbec and Malbec only.

The second thing we were pleased about was the label. I’ll admit it’s not by a long shot the best label we have, but it’s an improvement over the old one and that can only help. Labels are so important in this business. More than you like to think, a significant part of your buying decision will be made by the packaging. And it can be totally subjective too. One label I love, another person might detest.

It’s unfortunate, but it’s something we have to seriously consider before we buy a container of the stuff. If the label is horrible, we might run the risk of it just sitting there, and we don’t want to be one of those wine merchants bin-ending a load of out-of-date stock in years to come. We wouldn’t put the trust our customers have in us at risk, and we wouldn’t be prepared to have so much cash tied up in stock that’s not going to shift.

There’s only so much hand selling you can do to show that despite the label the wine inside is actually rather good, so if it is an issue we give as much feedback to the producer as possible so they can give their brand the best possible chance against the multitude of other choices on offer. Someone must have listened to us as we grumbled about Tesoro de los Andes.

Briefly back to the blend issue, it is fair to say some grape varieties are more synonymous with certain countries than others. Malbec is synonymous with Argentina, and more specifically with Mendoza, so why mess with it? And some may have more of an appeal as part of a blend rather than solo, and indeed may work better in a blend, compensating for the partners lack of whatever.

A final change to note under the Tesoro brand is the sourcing of Torrontés and Chardonnay grapes for their white blend. The fruit for the ’09 came solely from Mendoza, whereas the new-look 2010 is sourced from the hotter, drier San Juan region. Tasting confirms the quality has not been affected. Still classy stuff.

Tesoro de los Andes red & white are both on offer (€7.50 per bottle) until the end of February.


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