In order to help promote their countries produce, supportive and proactive governments lend their weight through their trade arms in India. One such outstanding example is Chile; over the last few years Chilean wines have been brought into the limelight under the aegis of ProChile, their trade mission in India. Under the stewardship of Nestor Riveros, it has held wine and food festivals and events across India in the past, bringing together importers and potential importers of Chilean brands under one roof for the benefit of the Indian wine drinkers and gourmets.
The 2012 edition of the Chilean Wine and Food festival was held at the ballroom of the Lalit in Delhi on the 31st of Oct. A total of around 30 wines were presented by 7 importers. Each importer was given an exclusive table to present their wines to the visitors as they moved around the hall. The importers and the wines they represented were Aspri Spirits (Vascos), Prestige Wines (Torres , Hemisferio) Brindco ( South Reserve, Castillo de Molina, Punto Nino, Misiones de Rengo), Hema (Novas), High Spirits (Anakena), Sonarys (Montes) and Krus Spirits (Palmira).
After gathering in the pre-function area, guests were ushered into the main ballroom where Mr Nestor Riveros welcomed the audience with a short presentation on the Chilean wine export market. It was indeed interesting to note that Chile exports nearly 66% of its wine production which was expected in 2011 to show a growth of 29%.
Underscoring the mutually supportive relationship with ProChile, Subhash Arora, our Club President, in his introductory remarks drew attention to the pioneering work done by ProChile in promoting Chilean wines over the last few years in India. He also emphasised the unique character of Chilean wines because of different terroir and topography with the Andes Mountains in the West, the Pacific Ocean in the East and another range of mountains near the sea, dividing Chile into valleys like Maipo, Maule, Curico, Aconcagua, Limari- in fact 14 of them at the moment. He referred to Chile as a Valley of Dolls-signifying beautiful wines with diverse character.
Whilst watching the presentation, the guests had the opportunity to visit the beautifully presented central appetizer station and also sample traditional Chilean canapés such as Salmon Ceviche, Lamb Empanadas ,Turkey quiche and the Chili Mussels. The vegetarians were also well catered to with the Guacamole tarts, and the Watermelon and goat cheese skewers were worthy of mention.
As I did not taste the wines in the traditional way with a spittoon close at hand, I must confess that I didn’t taste all the 30 wines on offer. I do not know whether anyone did- but I do hope they had a driver to take them home as with an average 60 ml serving the amount consumed would have been in the vicinity of around 2 bottles!!!
There was a good attendance of Delhi Wine Club members which was indeed helpful as soon the members’ bush telegraph was busy identifying good wines from the more pedestrian ones and passing these vignettes to fellow members. Given their range of wines on offer, the Prestige and Brindco tables drew the maximum crowds.
Whilst I couldn’t pick a really outstanding Sauvignon Blanc from the 8 wines on offer, I thought the Chilean Chardonnays were of a much higher quality where the Torres Cordillera and the South Reserve stood out.
Photos By:: Adil Arora
There were more varietals available in the red wine category. As Carmenere is not really widely available in India, I decided to start with the two Carmenere on offer – the Castello de Molina and Anakena -and I was pleasantly surprised with this signature Chilean grape. Both wines were fruity and had smooth tannins with a touch of spice. The two very drinkable Carmenere blends with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the Novas marquee were indicative of this grapes versatility. Virtually every producer had a Cabernet Sauvignon though I rated the Montes Alpha and the Torres San Medin as the best of the lot.
On the food front, there was a wide variety of grills available though all focused clearly on the non-vegetarian. The grilled salmon with pineapple salsa was a hit as was the Oven Roasted Turkey with navy beans. The Chileans eat a lot of pork and the molasses glazed barbeque spare ribs paired extremely well with the Carmenere.
This range of imported meats allowed a mix and match with the wines as per one’s personal preference and I could see a lot of our members discovering new pairings. For those of the guests for whom the Ceviches and Mussels were like stuff from Mars, ProChile after last years’ experience, had laid on a full Indian buffet which I gave a wide berth to.
Our thanks to Nestor and his ProChile team for exposing our members and other guests to such a wide range of wines that evening. It is a tribute to our Club and the President Subhash Arora that we have been invited to be a part of perhaps every event organised in Delhi by ProChile and the embassy during the last decade. In a tongue-in cheek remark, Subhash suggested that next year there should be more focus on wines or the name should be changed from Chilean Wine and Food Festival to Chilean Food and Wine Festival, the subtle difference duly noted by Mr Nestor Riveros who acknowledged that he had worked with the Club even during his previous posting when he had collaborated with Subhash and the Club at an event at the Taj Mansingh a decade ago.
We wish him and ProChile all success in their endeavour to keep Chilean wines at the top of the heap as far as the Indian wine drinker is concerned and as our president explicitly suggested, this festival should become an annual event in the ProChile calendar to help the branding- Delhi Wine Club will continue to be an ardent and active supporter.
The article is written by Arun Batra