‘It means a connoisseur of great wines’ I said at the Degustation Dinner by Sula Selections to launch the Cono Sur Wines from Chile. ‘Sur’ refers to the musical note in Indian music, said Sneha Mankani. ‘Cono Sur’, we were told by His Excellency Cristian Barros - Chilean Ambassador to India refers to “the Southern Cone,” the shape of South America.
|HE Cristian Barros - Chilean Ambassador to India
Embassy of Chile had celebrated the Chilean Wine Festival 2011 at the Aqua Bar in The Park Hotel in Delhi with members of the Delhi Wine Club as special invitees on November 9, while its Mumbai Chapter was invited for the event in Mumbai on November 17. The Ambassador of Chile, H.E. Cristian Barros was in Mumbai to attend the event and had kindly consented to be the chief guest.
Although green is not a color that you would associate with wines, it seems to be the buzz world in the world of wine today - from exclusive use of bicycles in and around the vineyards to growing organic grapes with no pesticides or chemical spray. This concept is here to stay although it involves a lot of hard work. In 2000, Cono Sur started their first organically managed vineyard, being the first winery in South America to receive two ISO Certifications, one for quality assurance and one for environmental policies.
We were informed that Chile is the first wine country as a whole to go organic, partly because its climate is so brilliantly inhospitable to mildews & also the new sustainability policy launched this year to create an economically viable & environmentally friendly production process. In India, Sula vineyard has apparently taken the lead to support the green movement.
Sula claims to be the first importer of Chilean wine (though on checking later with Subhash Arora, President of the Indian Wine academy I was informed that Sonarys was the first to import Chilean wines a decade earlier when they introduced Montes Alpha). Way back in 2001, the Satori was bottled locally with 100% Chilean wine imported in bulk. The relationship with Chile now continues as Sula has partnered with Cono Sur-2nd largest wine exporter in Chile, to be the sole distributor of its wines in India including some of its premium wines - Cono Sur Bicycle Chardonnay 2010, Pinot Noir 2010, Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 & Tocornal Merlot 2010.
Gonzalo Marina, Regional Director- Asia, Cono Sur is quite pleased with the alliance with Sula Selections. ‘We were looking at India since long because of its future potential and were lucky to meet with Sula. We hope with the market will open more and India will become an important wine consuming country for Chile. The fact that India is also a wine producing country adds more competition to imported wines.’ He adds, ‘meeting with Sula for the first time at the London Wine Fair last year ‘we started shipping a few months ago and I think both the companies are surprised about the reception of Cono Sur wines in the market.’
The dinner to launch the wines was organized at the Pali Village Cafe in Bandra, Mumbai on 16th November 2011 and well attended by the key representatives from the Chilean Embassy included HE Cristian Barros - Chilean Ambassador to India who turned out to be a great conversationalist. Mr. Nestor Riveros - Trade Commissioner and head of ProChile India, Rodrigo Gallardo - Agricultural Attaché and Nicolas Caso - Commercial Assistant graced the occasion along with Daniel Grossmann, Mona Juneja, Shrinath Bolloju and Stacy Bee.
I enjoy attending the Sula events for the professional & relaxed attitude of Rajeev Samant and Cecilia Oldne’s ability to beautifully pair up the wine with some delicious food.
The fresh & citrusy flavor offset by mineral notes of the Chardonnay paired very well with the Pimer Plato consisting of watermelon+feta+pistachios followed by a Segundo plato of mushroom in puff pastry with Wasabi cream paired with the Pinot Noir. The pairing of Pinot Noir with mushrooms, considered ‘two peas in a pod’ was the highlight of the evening with its sweet fruity flavor. The Platos Principale was the pumpkin risotto with squash & sage paired with the Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2009. Despite its rich plum flavor and toasted oak complexity, it didn’t rank as high as the Pinor Noir – maybe it’s because I am a Pinot Noir fan!
While I sampled only the vegetarian fare, I was told that the non-vegetarian pairing was just as exquisite. A light Smoked Salmon mousse+crispy Melba+Dill with the Chardonnay was followed by Seared Cambodian Bassa with the Pinot Noir. The main course featured a Fillet Mignon+Rosemary potators+Asparagus with the Cabernet Sauvignon.
And the Pali Village Café was a perfect setting for this launch with its exposed brick walls and an almost industrial gritty look offset by the startlingly good food being served.
Wines have become a nation’s ambassador to the rest of the world & with a name that sounds musical to an Indian ear and its passion & commitment towards the environment; Cono Sur is likely to fascinate the Indian connoisseur.
Sula presented Cono Sur Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva the following day at the Chilean Wine Festival. Aspri, Sonarys, Dhall Foods and Mohan Bros from Delhi were the other participants.
Earlier, Sula had launched the Cono Sur Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon at the Aqua Bar in the Park Hotel on November 9. The event was attended by around 200 persons including Ambassador Barros. Chilean Salmon was also the rave there as I was informed by the Delhi Wine Club. As Mr. Nestor Riveros told me, other importers who participated at the event held for the second consecutive year included Brindco, Hema, High Spirits, Mohan Bros, Aspri and Sonarys.
Gallery at Delhi