News briefs: A flying visit by a Chilean sommelier; CIVB to showcase Bordeaux; wine ups and downs

A flying visit by Chilean sommelier

Concha y Toro’s export ambassador recently graduated from Chile’s Sommelier School, which is now based in Valparaiso

Concha y Toro’s export ambassador recently graduated from Chile’s Sommelier School, which is now based in Valparaiso

Of Chile’s 33 sommeliers, Gabriel Salas Silva is somewhat exceptional. Rather than working in a hotel or restaurant around the capital, Silva, who  just three years ago, is now Concha y Toro’s export ambassador, with special responsibility for promoting the Reserve wines to the on-trade.

He staged a tasting in Dublin recently, showing wines mainly from the Casillero del Diablo and Trio ranges. The Casillero bottlings all showed well, with the Merlot 2007 demonstrating a touch of old fashioned Bordeaux character and the Carmenere 2007 offering a refinement of flavour which you don’t always find with this variety.

The Trio Merlot Cabernet Carmenere 2006 packs a punchy 14.5% alcohol but it tastes surprisingly balanced on the palate, showing that there’s decent fruit concentration also. Nicely structured, with tasty plum and black fruits, it should age well for a few years to come. Don Melchior 2005 is a blend of 97% cabernet sauvignon with 3% cabernet franc. It’s a big, structured wine with the same alcohol levels as the Trio Merlot, yet not quite so approachable. Very plummy with soft vanilla notes, it would be a good wine with game or rich beef casseroles.

Irish Distillers are now the distributers for the entire Concha y Toro range, including the Sunrise and Frontera labels. For details contact marketing manager Richard Brickley at 01 2129000.

CIVB to showcase Bordeaux 

Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB) has announced its first showcase of Bordeaux wines that are available in Ireland, due to take place on 21 October, in Fallon & Byrne, Exchequer Street, Dublin 2. Although there are over 120,000 hectares under vine in Bordeaux, the region generally shuns modern mass production methods in favour of making characterful, hand-crafted wines, from the world’s top grape varieties, cabernet, merlot, sauvignon blanc and semillon, that express the traditions and terroirs of their appellations.

More than 14 of the importing companies will be offering over 100 wines to taste, many of which are produced only in small quantities, and all of which retail at below €30. CIVB promises reds for every palate, occasion and cuisine, and whites in the new lighter, fresher, dry style, that will exceed expectations.

For an invitation to the trade tasting contact Dominique Geary by email at dominique@dominiquegeary.com or phone 01 2883146 / 086 8383863. The tasting will be opened to the public from 6 to 8pm and for this, admission will be with purchased tickets only. 

Wine Trade Ups and Downs


Up has gone the age for which UK supermarket Morrison will seek proof by way of ID card. For three years, the stores have required proof of age from those looking less than 21, now it will be age 25. According to Morrison, it’s easier to distinguish a 16 or 17 year old from a 25 year old than it is from a 21 year old, and the company believes that the new policy will ease stress on staff. Other retailers may follow suit.

New Zealand is reporting a bumper harvest. For pinot noir, quantity and quality are up but probably not by enough to push prices down significantly for the consumer, as demand is remarkably strong for the new wave of New Zealand pinots. The successful vintage coincides with plans by growers in Otago, noted for fine pinots, to have the whole region declared organic.

One gainer from the currency crisis could be the English wine industry. As the falling pound makes the product much more competitive on its own market, the Waitrose chain is one of several retailers giving extra space to local wines. Waitrose has doubled English wine sales over the past year, albeit from a small base


New Zealand’s harvest isn’t bringing joy all round, especially in the sauvignon blanc heartland of Marlborough. Thanks to optimum weather and the coming through of a rash of new plantings, the sauvignon harvest could be up by 30% in some areas. Until now, firm global demand has maintained the premium price commanded by Kiwi sauvignon but last year did see some softening of that, and this is likely to continue in 2008.

There’s likely to be a reduced harvest in France’s Muscadet region this year. Terrific frosts hit the vineyards late in the spring and it now appears that around half the crop will have been obliterated, with the entire crop being lost in some districts. It is known that, due to the reduced quantities of grapes, frost-damaged vines often harvest very well concentrated fruit. This will be good news for the Muscadet fans who have noticed that the best estates from this region have been getting better and better over the last few years. 

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