The spotlight falls on Chile this week with the Mercado Chileno tasting at London’s Truman Brewery on September 13. It promises to be a unique opportunity for UK buyers to see first hand the new styles of wine being made in different regions of the country. Wines that Anita Jackson, the UK head of Wines of Chile, believes are ideally placed to shake up and add real excitement to any premium wine list
How many Chilean wines do you have on your list? Are you missing out on wines being produced in different styles from new regions of the country? The Mercado Chileno tasting is the ideal opportunity to catch up with all that is new in Chile.
If you were giving the Chilean wine category a school report for how it is doing the UK what would you say?
I would say 10 out of 10 for sheer effort. Quality and innovation, would be my star pupils.
For the last two years Chile has maintained its market share and is one of only a handful of countries to boast positive growth in the declining UK wine market.
If you look at the premium and food driven on-trade in particular what are the big steps being taken with Chile?
The on-trade is a big focus for us and will continue to be. We do well, but more at lower price points, therefore our focus is to educate sommeliers about Chile’s wine regions, and what the wines can offer for their wine lists, and where traditional listings can be replaced by premium Chilean wines.
What areas do you think still need to be improved/worked on?
Again we have to change the attitudes of the on-trade about Chile’s premium wines. We shouldn’t just be considered as a provider of good quality house and or entry level wines. The message is that Chile produces good quality entry level, but pay a bit more and you get wines that over deliver and can challenge most established premium wine producing countries. We will continue to bang the drum sending this message.
Any particular areas of the on-trade or specific outlets/operators that are flag bearers for Chilean wine?
There are a handful of restaurants that have a good Chilean representation and several on-trade consultants do a good job of spreading the word, but we need more ambassadors. We are working hard on this it’s a long term strategy and projects like Wine Bar War will ensure we gain the exposure we deserve.
What are the overall wine trends coming out of Chile in terms of the styles of wine being made and what can we expect in the future?
Cool climate coastal wines are exceptionally good, and show real sense of terroir. For example take Sauvignon Blanc, there is such a difference between a Sauvignon Blanc from say Leyda and Casablanca. Paredones in Colchagua produces leaner and more saline styles, Leyda has gooseberry and asparagus notes close to a Marlborough style, while Casablanca comes out more tropical and passion fruit notes. That to me is a positive and shows our wines express real character.
The South of Chile has become the ‘buzz’ region and this is where you find amazing fresh light style reds made from Cinsault or Pais.
Old vine Carignan also continues to produce some amazing lush wines, as well as doing well as part of a Rhône style blend. Dry Muscat from Itata has proved a success with several wineries, as well as white Rhône blends.
The Chileans are constantly pushing the boundaries and discovering more extreme regions to plant in. I can’t see this trend changing anytime soon.
There is also a strong focus on producing sparkling wines from the cooler climate regions.
Where does the UK sit in Chile’s overall export strategy?
We are still one of its most important markets, and third biggest market overall. The United States is the biggest export market followed by China. Japan sits fourth and Brazil fifth. During 2017 the strategy will be to roll out unified projects – adapted for each market.
The UK is a mature market for wine so therefore what works here needs to be tweaked to work in developing markets.
What is driving growth for Chile in other markets that we can learn for the UK?
I feel the UK is more open to new styles of wines, and therefore what happens here is then reflected in other markets two or three years down the line. So it is actually the UK that drives what happens in other markets. For instance, Cabernet Sauvignon is driving the market in the US, whilst its Bordeaux blends in Asia.
My Wines of Chile colleagues envy the fact the UK is so open to try new things and that I can talk about innovations from Chile with a much greater ease, compared to their own markets which are less open to these styles.
Turning to your annual tasting on September 13, what can we expect?
Along with this year’s new releases, there are plenty of examples of these new styles of wine I have mentioned. We also want our visitors to learn more about Chilean culture, so there will be examples of cuisine, travel, crafts and music and later in the evening dancing.
Any specific areas of the show/masterclasses/themes that you would like to highlight?
We have three focus tasting tables: Carignan: sparkling: and award winning wines. But we encourage guests to see as many of the producers in the room as possible as they have so many exciting wines to taste.
If you are an on-trade buyer why should you be committing some time to come to Mercado Chileno?
So that you are not missing out on the most exciting New World wine producing country and the amazing range and diversity of styles nw on offer from Chile. Most importantly there is also the chance to how premium Chilean wines can improve your bottom line and profit margins.
If a buyer only has two hours to spare what should they prioritise?
By using our special Wine Journey initiative at the tasting you can prioritise what is of specific interest to you. Simply go to our website and you can work out your own plan at. https://www.event-hub.co.uk/winesofchile/winejourney/
But there is so much to see, that I would urge you to come along and stay a bit longer. We will be open until 8pm and would love to see you there.