Argentina vs Chile


Argentina vs Chile
The identikit of South American wines

January 18, 2012 by Laura Saieg


The Argentine Wine Observatory presented the first part of a report that compares the wine industry of Argentina and Chile. It reveals data about planted hectares, finished products, and internal consumption of both countries.

Argentina and Chile are two of the most important wine industries in Latin America. They have diverse variables that enable them to establish in different markets. In order to analyze these two sectors, the Argentine Wine Observatory, a research organization coordinated by Coviar and the Stock Exchange of Mendoza, presented the first part of a research that compares the planted hectares, finished products, and internal consumption of both countries.

Chile has a total surface of 756,000 km², with over 17 million inhabitants and its per capita consumption amounts to 14 liters of wines approximately, whereas Argentina has a surface four times larger (2,780,000 km²), a population of more than 40 million and its consumption is 26 liters per capita. Chile intends 72% of its wine production for the foreign market, while in the case of Argentina, 72% of its production is destined for the domestic market.

As regards grapes, Carmenere is Chile’s signature variety; however, it has only 9,500 hectares, accounting for an 8% share of the total of wine grapes and 11% of red grapes. These figures lead it to be the fifth most important grown area. On the contrary, Argentina ‘s signature grape variety is Malbec, which reaches 17% of wine grapes and 33% of red ones, and it is the most produced and exported variety.

In Argentina, there are 218,000 grown hectares, of which 92.57% are concentrated on two provinces: Mendoza and San Juan, while in the case of Chile, 97.53% of 182,000 planted hectares are spread over five regions: Maule, Libertador General Bernardo O´Higgins, Metropolitana, Valparaíso and Bío Bío.

Ranking of wine grape varieties

In Chile, in 2010, red grapes represented 72.44% of the planted area while white ones reached 27.56%. The main four varieties in Chile (Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Merlot) cover 62% of the land planted with wine grapes.

By contrast, Argentina classifies wine varieties into red, white and other grapes. The red ones, in the ‘2011 Wine Census’, carried out by the National Institute of Viticulture (INV), amounted to 50.63%, in the case of whites 18.82% and the others (including rosé grapes) reached 30.54% of grown hectares.  For this country, the four most important varieties are Malbec, Bonarda, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pedro Giménez, covering 42% of the planted area with wine grapes.

Regarding white grapes, Chile and Argentina enlarged their grown area in the case of both Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. However, Argentina’s signature white variety, Torrontés Riojano, showed a drop in the amount of hectares throughout the period of 2002-2011.

In Chile, Sauvignon Blanc area grew by 89% over the 2002-2010 period and the land with Chardonnay showed a 43% upward trend.

On the other hand, in Argentina, Sauvignon Blanc experienced an extraordinary boost of 166% and Chardonnay climbed by 38%, while Torrontés Riojano suffered a 5% fall.