Chilean vineyards

Changing Chile

20 June, 2014

“In addition there are all different styles of Sauvignon Blanc, from the Andes to very coastal, and some small projects in the very south of Chile.” 

De Martino is a winery leading the way in this regard, breaking with the image of Chilean wine as dependable but a bit dull. In its range it has a skin-contact, no-added-sulfites Muscat from Iata, a Cinsault from the Secano Interior, a bush vine Malbec-based blend from Maule and a high-altitude Syrah from Elqui, among others. 

This is not what we’ve come to expect from Chile, and it’s great to see. 

I ask Tosso where Chile was trying to position itself. “It is a complicated question,” he replies. “Of course, I could tell you we want to be seen as a premium grower, but any wine country would say the same. 

“To me, Chile is in a revolution that is just starting – what will happen in this revolution, nobody knows. But certainly there is a new force inside Chile, and it will change the wine scene here for the rest of our lives. “We will have different Chiles – the classical, the commercial, the outsiders, the boutique and so on.”

Thomas Domeyko of Concha y Toro also shares his thoughts. “Chile is positioning itself to become a relevant player in the premium segment,” he says, citing brand Casillero del Diabolo, which grew 12% in the past year. 

“The next step is to create and grow a market for Chile one step above, at the level of Marques de Casa Concha,” he adds. “Chile is in an extremely good position – a relevant player not only at entry level but increasingly at premium, and this gives us immense possibilities to grow.” 

Domeyko reveals that Casillero del Diablo is doing 4 million cases annually worldwide and, significantly, has the potential to become a top 10 wine brand in the UK. “If you examine the others in that list, very few are premium level brands,” he says.

So, Chile is changing. Those of us who have been following Chilean wine for a while have always hoped
that some more interesting, compelling wines would emerge, and I don’t think it’s exaggerating, or simply wishful thinking, to suggest that change is now coming. 

“This year is my 20th vintage in Chile,” says Felipe Tosso, “and it feels as if I’m just starting, so many things are happening. It’s an exciting time to be a winemaker in Chile.”

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