Wine buyers and sommeliers look at Chile for different reasons. For some it is still their go to country for quality, value house wines, but for an increasing number of restaurants and bars Chile is also offering so much more, particularly with the growing awareness of different regions from north to south in a country capable of producing great food wines with lightness, acidity and fruit. All of which will be on show at today’s Wines of Chile tasting at the Oxo Tower in London.
Who better to give you a guided tour around what to expect at today’s Wines of Chile tasting than the head of its UK office, Anita Jackson, who marks your card on what to expect and where to go if your time is tight.
How was 2018 gone so far in terms of Chilean sales in the UK?
Chile sales in the UK have remained positive during 2018, in fact the exports stats are in growth by volume and value. Chile has 9% market share in the UK, sustaining its positive position for over four years. The UK is the third largest export market for Chile.
Which channels are seeing the most growth?
The channel with the most growth is the off-trade, which has remained in positive growth for at least three years now.
What steps and developments have you seen in the premium on-trade for Chilean wines this year and over the last 18 months?
It’s a slow process with the on-trade. We have to break the mindset in the on-trade that Chile is only good for great value house wine and to look beyond to the more premium offerings. It’s gradually happening, especially where there is more awareness from sommeliers of the regions, such as Leyda and Limarí and the amazing quality from these regions that do outperform more traditional regions that get regularly listed.
What are the key messages you want to get across to sommeliers and buyers about Chilean wine?
That Chile should be the go to country for premium wines, stylistically it has everything for everyone, elegant Chardonnay, Syrah/Shiraz that compete on the world stage, Sauvignon Blanc with personality that reflects the regions it comes from. And what’s more Chile is good business’ bottom line and margins.
Is the regionality route the right way to go or a case of winemakers telling their own stories?
Definitely, people want to hear about provenance. The regions in Chile are all distinctive in their style and the wines that they produce. Providing a story is a strong way for sommeliers to sell the wines.
Any particular developments that have happened in Chile that you would like to tell buyers about?
The buzz in Chile at the moment is coming from the south and varieties such as Pais, Cinsault, Carignan and Muscat from Itata and Maule. Chile has also defined it’s regions from east to west with the DO’s Costa (coastal), Entre Cordilleras (in between the mountain ranges) and Andes planted in the Andes foothills. Also with plantings further south into the Lake district and further north into the Atacama region, things aren’t standing still.
What styles of Chilean wine do you think are ideal for the premium on-trade?
Mainly the wines mentioned above, such as Syrah, Chardonnay, Carignan and Sauvignon Blanc. Pinot Noir also seems to get better every year.
And the price points?
Retail price points £10 – £15, that convert to a good price in a restaurant of £15 – £40.
Tell us about today’s Wines of Chile tasting in London. What can buyers expect?
We have a fantastic range of wineries on tasting with wines that cover all the regions, the new 2018 vintage is looking good so look out for these wines. We also have an Artisan area with a range of wines from boutique wineries and some quirky styles to try. Our themed tables reflect the terroirs of Chile, a range of wines that the wineries consider their top wines, and a range of award winning wines. If you come along in the evening we have a quiz to challenge what style of Cabernet Sauvignon you like.
There are also some new names to look out for and producers seeking UK representation. They are in the Artisan area and also two have taken their own tables, JA Jofré and La Ronciere. Both have some great wines that really express altitude, quirky blends and have good expressions of Semillon.
If your time was short what would be the key things you would recommend buyers doing at the tasting?
Check out the new 2018 vintage and particularly look for examples of Pais and Cinsault that show Chile’s light fresh drinking styles. Also take a look at the Rieslings being made in the South and make time to visit the Artisan area.
- The Wines of Chile takes place on September 25 at OXO2, Level 2, OXO Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, Southbank, SE1 9PH between 10am and 5.30pm. Trade visitors can register on the day. You can download the tasting catalogue here.