South American beauty

For consumers looking for high quality at a low price-point, Chilean and Argentine wines will prove a wise recommendation, writes Gillian Hamill

ChileThe Argentine wine industry principally focused on its domestic market until the 1990s. Prior to this time, Argentine winemakers were traditionally more interested in quantity than quality; with the country’s inhabitants consuming 90% of all wines produced there. In fact, the native wines were considered largely unexportable. Subsequently, the desire to increase exports inspired considerable advances in quality.

The devaluation of the Argentine peso in 2002 further fuelled a burgeoning wine industry as production costs decreased and tourism significantly increased, giving way to a whole new concept of wine tourism in Argentina – which is currently the fifth largest wine producer globally.

Rich viticultural history

Like Argentina, Chile also has a long viticultural history for a New World region. This stems back to the 16th century when the Spanish conquistadors brought Vitis vinifera vines with them as they colonized South America.

Then, in the mid-19th century, French wine varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were introduced in Chile. Stainless steel fermentation tanks and the use of oak barrels for ageing, both revolutionised winemaking in the early 1980s. As in the case of Argentina, wine exports from Chile grew very quickly as quality wine production increased. Chile is now the fifth largest exporter of wines in the world, and the ninth largest producer.

TrapicheExcellent quality price ratios

“Argentina’s largest exported premium brand,” Trapiche is located in Mendoza at the foothills of the Andes.  It exports wines to over 80 countries worldwide. In its diverse portfolio, Trapiche proposes the best wine for every consumption occasion, being always at the forefront of the international trade in wine styles and packaging. Quality, innovation and diversity have always being Trapiche’s fundamental drivers.  This is highlighted in the quantity of awards Trapiche has won, the most recent being recognised in the Impact “Hot Brand 2010” issue as the Wine Leader from Argentina. It has Trapiche2also received the prestigious “Argentine Wine Producer of the Year” award from The International Wine and Spirit Competition for 2004 and 2008. The brand specialises in unique wines with excellent quality price ratios that exceed the consumers’ expectations.

The following Trapiche ranges are available from Comans:
Trapiche Varietals Range : Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Rose.
Trapiche Oak Cask Range : Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Pinot Noir.

UndurragaDiverse range to suit every palate

Undurraga’s main base is in the Maipo Valley which is considered the home of fine Chilean wine. Undurraga’s philosophy is that no single wine is the best; the best wine is the one that you like the most and thanks to Undurraga’s diverse offerings there is always one to suit all consumers. Today with over 120 years of tradition, the Undurraga brands are present in over 60 countries on all five continents.  Undurraga wines are based on three fundamental values which are quality, origin and proximity; this ensures that its wines are of the highest standard. Undurraga places special emphasis on how a good wine comes from a good grape and the company has developed its agriculture activity in different estates to produce the finest of grapes. The Undurraga range is an extremely well priced range for the quality and effort that goes into producing the wines.

The following Undurraga range is available from Comans :
Undurraga Varietals: Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay.
Undurraga Founders Collection: Cabernet Sauvignon.

MckennaChilean wine, Irish heritage

The McKenna Collection is a commemoration of General Juan McKenna who was born in Ireland in 1771 and later became a key military figure in the Chilean War of Independence. When Chile gained its independence in 1810 as a reward for his heroism, Juan McKenna was appointed Commandant General of the Chilean Army. Following his convictions, he died in a duel after a life of adventure and heroism.

General Juan McKenna is a symbol of patriotism and courage in Chile and to this day he remains an Irish hero in Chilean history. Undurraga and Comans choose to honour this man as an acknowledgement of his heroics and to highlight the strong bond between Ireland and Chile.

The two varieties of the McKenna Collection sold in Ireland are Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. A great deal of attention was invested into the grapes and in the fermentation stage to ensure a quality wine as this is a brand which Comans and Undurraga are passionate about. It is another example of a quality wine at a strong value price.

chileSeminar to reveal secrets of terroirs

Vina Errazuriz chief winemaker, Francisco Baettig will be in Dublin on Monday, 5 September, to deliver the annual Errazuriz Seminar at the Clarence Hotel. Francisco will be presenting the latest release of the Flagship Errazuriz Icon wines and revealing the secrets of their terroirs. The Errazuriz Estate wines have been widely available in Ireland for many years but on completion of the group’s new Icons Winery in 2010, Errazuriz is keen to showcase its top end wines to the Irish trade. Don Maximiano, Vinedo Chadwick and Kai are wines that have all scored highly in international wine competitions. Vinedo Chadwick for instance scored 97 points from Robert Parker, outscoring even some of the very best wines from the most prestigious regions of France. Errazuriz not only offers consumers great value for money but has also become a quality benchmark for Chilean wine. Errazuriz wines are distributed in Ireland by Cassidy Wines.

chileIreland’s top selling Chilean wine

Santa Rita is the leading Chilean wine in Ireland. In fact, Ireland is the second biggest export market after the United States, accounting for 220,000 cases or just under 15% of all Santa Rita wine that is shipped out of Chile each year.

Within the extensive range, Santa Rita 120 is one of the most widely known wines and is the top selling Chilean wine in Ireland. Indeed, the Sauvignon Blanc from the range is the biggest selling Sauvignon Blanc in Ireland. The classic Santa Rita 120 range is named after the 120 heroes who sheltered in the cellars of Santa Rita during the fight for Chilean Independence. As homage to these heroes, Santa Rita launched the ‘Santa Rita 120 Local Hero’ awards in 2009 and this competition runs annually in each of the brand’s key markets. To participate in this competition, Santa Rita 120 calls on communities around Ireland to nominate their local hero. The winning Santa Rita 120 hero receives €10,000 to spend on their nominated local community activity, as well as the trip of a lifetime for two to Chile. The person who nominates them also wins a trip to Chile.

Carlos Gattica, chief winemaker at Santa Rita, will be in Ireland this September to profile some of the other exquisite wines available from the brand. Santa Rita also has a range of Reserva wines in its portfolio. These wines have the complexity, concentration, elegance, and balance that provide a well-rounded, long-lasting expression of the regions in Chile that they are produced from.

Other Santa Rita wines include the Medalla Real Gran Reserva range, the Carmenere varietal Pehuen and the world class Casa Real, which was awarded 94 points two years in a row, by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate for the 2001 and 2002 vintages.  

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