The Buyer
Sommeliers on Chile: The Buyer & Chono Wines debate

Sommeliers on Chile: The Buyer & Chono Wines debate

To try to unravel and understand Chile’s position in the premium on-trade, The Buyer teamed up with Ellis Wines and its Chilean producer partner, Chono Wines, to bring
together a group of senior wine trade professionals, buyers and sommeliers to debate what are the opportunities and challenges for Chile as a whole. It was the chance for these leading figures to share their experiences with Chilean wines in their restaurants and businesses and look at the kinds of wines from Chile that they are looking to source and select for their wine lists.

Richard Siddle
6th December 2018by Richard Siddle
posted in Debates,

Chilean wines are one of the go to areas for shoppers when out buying wine in a supermarket. But a lot less so when ordering wine in the premium on-trade. The Buyer’s latest sommelier debate, in partnership with UK distributor, Ellis Wines and its Chilean partners, Chono Wines, looked at the steps Chile needs to take to make more inroads into this key sector of the market.


It has arguably been Chile’s long held reputation for producing consistent, dependable wines that has helped it become one of the world’s most important wine exporting countries. It has certainly helped drive sales and its reputation in the UK.

The challenge and the opportunity now is how do you move that perception up a few notches so that it is more in line with both the great value wines that Chile still produces in vast amounts, but also all the wines it has at every level of a wine list. Indeed its super premium wines, have given even Bordeaux first growths a run for their money in blind tastings.

Rupert Lovie of Ellis Wines helps pour the Chono Wines for the debate

To do so The Buyer teamed up with Ellis Wines and its Chilean wine producer, Chono Wines, to hear first hand from leading buyers and sommeliers about how they view the Chilean wine offer, what determines which wines will make it onto their lists and to hear from each other and share their experiences of working with Chilean wine. To do so the debate looked to address some key areas including:

• What are the styles of Chilean wine that they are currently putting on their lists and why?

• What is their understanding of the different quality cues of Chilean wine from alternative wine regions and terroirs?

• How does Chile compare to other New World countries?

• What styles of wine on a wine list would Chile need to replace in order to get a listing?

• As well as the chance to introduce and present different regional styles of Chilean wine that could be suitable for their respective lists.

Top sommeliers

Kelvin McCabe and Julien Sahut sharing a joke with Rupert Lovie

To do so included a leading panel of buyers and sommeliers featuring:

  • Harry Crowther, wine consultant for restaurants and bars, currently working with Living Ventures and The Alchemist. Also runs his own training programmes for restaurants and bar tenders under the Grain to Grape banner and runs his own blog at
  • Kelvin McCabe, group head sommelier at Adam Handling Group of restaurants, is widely experienced and prior to joining Adam Handling was head sommelier at Zuma. He is on Instagram at @sommelierlifelondon.
  • Martin Lam, former restaurateur, most famously for Ransome’s Dock, turned restaurant and wine consultant, with key customers including the Zetter Group. Find out more at
  • Olivier Gasselin, senior, experienced sommelier and wine operations manager at the Hakkasan Group who has worked with the company both in London and the Middle East and Asia. He has also been head sommelier at Marc Restaurants and Terence Conran restaurants.
  • Julien Sahut, head sommelier at Sexy Fish, formerly at China Tang at The Dorchester. He is also co-founder of Wine Picker that is a new app to act as a digital sommelier offering consumers wine advice and food pairing choices.

M Victoria’s Lenart Cernelic sees Chilean wine from both the retail and on-trade sides

  • Lenart Cernelic, head of the wine store at M Restaurant Victoria, who has responsibility for both retail and on-trade sales at M. Previously he has worked as sommelier Sketch Restaurants & Bars.=
  • Anita Jackson, head of Wines of Chile in the UK, who is responsible for promoting, marketing and educating both the trade and consumers about the advances and opportunities with Chilean wine.
  • Helena Nicklin, head of content at Winerist, which specialises in offering wine tours and experiences for consumers at wineries all over the world. She also runs her own award-winning blog and social media at
  • Rupert Lovie, head of marketing at Ellis Wines, has wide experience working across a number of leading UK wine companies suppliers and distributors including Hatch Mansfield and Sogrape.
  • Camilio Viani, Chono’s chief winemaker who has worked for a number of major Chilean producers including Viña Casas del Bosque, ViñaMar, VIA Wines and in 2016 was named enological manager of Viña Sutil.
  • Sebastian Alvial, commercial director at Viña Sutil with direct responsiblilty for Chono Wines has wide experience working in exports for Chilean wines with previous roles at Viña Montes and VIA Wines.

To hear what they had to say you can download the full report here.