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Delhi Wine Club
Chileans are Here- The Chileans are Here

Posted: Friday, 23 September 2011 11:37

Chileans are Here- The Chileans are Here

Sep 23 : Last Tuesday saw ProChile and their Embassy bring ten Chilean producers to India to promote Chilean wines in India which offers a lucrative market to them but like a mirage has been eluding them so far, despite their efforts and marked presence in several sophisticated international markets, writes Subhash Arora who believes such events and focused efforts would deliver results to those who survive the oft frustrating Indian bureaucratic system rather than the wine market which is longing to grow.

Photos By:: Adil Arora

About 200 wine professionals gathered in the Crystal Ballroom on the evening of 20th September to witness the Chilean Wine Tour, a kaleidoscope of over 70 wines to be tasted in two hours- a marathon tasting organised by ProChile and the Embassy of Chile. There was a bonus addition of delicious snacks that included chicken empanadas and the buffet dinner. Ten producers -Camino Real, Cantaluna, Casa Donoso, El Principal, Folatre, Melozal, Sur Valles, Top Wine Chile and Valdivieso from different valleys of Chile showcased their wines at the trade tasting for importers, F&B personnel, sommeliers and wine journalists.

In a short welcome speech, H.E. Christian Barros mentioned about the Chilean wines having the benefit of being spared by the Phylloxera pest disease. A short AV presentation by Nestor Riveros, Head of ProChile in India, who is very enthusiastic about increasing the share of Chilean wines which has been steady but  stagnating  during the last few years after an initial burst on the Indian scene, was focused on their flagship varietal Carmenere which used to be considered a Merlot (it looks and tastes a lot like the luscious fruit but for its higher acidity and the difficulty in ripening) for centuries but was discovered by a French viticulturist a few decades ago.

DelWine has been a great proponent of this wine for years and had been advocating the promotion of this varietal as a flagship varietal like Shiraz in Australia, Pinotage in South Africa and Malbec in Argentina. The problem has been that the grape does have problems of fully ripening, leaving a green aroma that continues into the flavour. Whereas Chile has been able to resolve the problem by and large, there were still many Carmeneres that had this typical green character tonight barring a few like Camino Real and Valdivieso. However, it has done quite well as a blending grape as one tasted in the glass with wines from El Principal.

Most producers were very happy explaining their wines and willingly tasting them with all and sundry and soaking in the compliments with the exception of one producer who had either eaten bad food in the plane or had been misinformed that the Indians would be standing in line to hoodwink him and run away with his two and a half bottles of wine. To top it, his chardonnay was more of oak and less of fruit, a former traditional Chilean style where they spent more on the oak and less on the fruit with the mistaken notion that since such wines won more points in Australia, that’s the way to go. I had wanted to taste his Carmenere Reserve for which I did not have time to wait in line but I was told that it was quite a quaff.

Generally, the Carmenere were fairly ordinary and not impressive except in the blends when they did very well.  Valdivieso was quite up to the mark. But to the owner Christian Sotomayor whom I had met in Chile last year, this is not the entry point visit to India. Known and respected for producing sparkling wines, Valdivieso made an impressive entry through Sovereign Impex over five years ago when the wines had got a rave review in Hindustan Times, and he has a range of wines he exports throughout the world. Caballo Loco came to be known as one of the top Chilean wines in India till it started disappearing from the restaurant wine lists and the market. Apparently, he and the importer drifted apart and he was here to start a fresh chapter.

Chile prides itself on being a quality wine producer and not only value for money wines that adorn the retail shops of Delhi, Gurgaon  or banquets. Tipaume, an interesting blend- presented by Yves Pouzet- a winemaker with a bio- dynamic certified winery, Sol de Melozal Reserva 2006- a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and  Carmenere, Memoria 2007 from El principal and of course Caballo Loco were a few of the wines that displayed the personalities of the valleys and the resulting terroir Chile is so blessed with. They were also the most popular wines at the Tasting.

Another interesting observation was that the very low- end wines were quite ordinary- a few of them not quaffable  beyond a few mandatory sips. But stepping up the price a notch or two brought out the terroir and the winemakers’ passion at still affordable prices.

The event had a couple of minor shortcomings too. There were too many samples to taste in 2 hours. Although one is not expected to taste all the wines but each producer was too busy pouring and several people tasting were thoroughly confused, thus losing the focus. The event sorely lacked any seating arrangements. Barring a seven-seat sofa in a corner by the buffet area, there was visibly no chair to sit on.  I was discussing some matter of prime importance with a journalist and we had to walk to the lobby to sit down and continue discussing (possibly an illegal act, carrying those glasses of delicious white Sauvignon Blanc from Folatre).

One hopes ProChile gets the necessary support to make it an annual event, possibly around their National Day which is on 19th September but was celebrated a couple of days later on 21st this year. With the Indian market trying to awaken itself to expand, Chilean quality wines also will have an interesting role to play and should have a decent market share. Although using basically French grapes including Carmenere which has Bordeaux as its origin too, the unique terroir in various regions is a strength which is making the wines see an increase in global demand and which is what the Indian consumer ought to be looking for.

Subhash Arora

Producers                                      Gallery



Sidd Banerji Says:

No wonder,I have been on a continuous basis impressed by your language equally as your contents.The article related to Chilean wine tasting was a learning course.It was a class I attended.Shall keep very close to my heart. I am sure we are soon to see a compilation of Subhash's articles,notes and ideas for wine knowledge.Regards.

Posted @ October 15, 2011 11:49


Jean Albert Rauld Says:

Dear Subhash, Always interested in knowing about your experience with the Chilean wines in India. Trying to learn more about the profile of wines that India likes. I hope to be aware of more activities where you are invited about Chilean wines. I am interested in comunicate to the propper people about improvements that can be done to those events. Regards from Chile, Jean Albert

Posted @ September 29, 2011 12:29


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