Having been the only country to escape the oenological ravages of Phylloxera in the late 19th Century, Chile can proudly trace its winemaking heritage all the way back to the mid-16th Century.
However its popularity among consumers has little to do with this antique fact but rather the contemporary taste of Chilean wine that’s proving so popular around the globe.
Chilean wine exports continued to grow in sales between August 2015 and July this year with volumes up 9.61% although values were down 9.16%. And Chilean wines are particularly popular here in Ireland.
The Irish Wine Association puts Chilean wine atop the Countries of Origin table for wine sales here with 2.17 million case-equivalents sold overall in 2015, a sales figure up 8.4% on 2014. In the process, it increased its share of the Irish wine market from 23.5% to 25.3%.
Among all the countries that enjoy a glass of wine from Chile, Ireland seems to enjoy it more than Denmark or even Russia. Indeed Ireland has become Chile’s eighth largest export market with direct shipments to Ireland of 1.6 million cases, up 8.5% and worth €37.3 million ($41.93m). That’s up 2.8% in the year to July 2016 according to the Chliean Winegrowers Association, Wines of Chile.
Irish market for Chilean wine
There’s little doubting either that New World wines enjoy the Lion’s Share of the wine market here at the expense of European wines. Only 35% of the wine sold here emanates from within the EU and Chilean wine remains the darling of the Irish wine-drinking classes.
Within this, two of Chile’s top wine brands (Santa Rita and Castillero del Diablo) enjoy a place among the top-performing wine brands on the Irish market with market leader Santa Rita followed by McGuigan, Wolf Blass, Castillero del Diablo and Blossom Hill.
In the Chilean-only import league to Ireland SR and CdD are followed by Cono Sur and Vina Carmen (also part of the Santa Rita Group).
Argentina’s Wine Fair
While not so prominent here, Chile’s neighbour Argentina also grew sales to just under 2% of the wine market from 192,796 cases to 196,308 between 2014 and 2015.
For the sixth Malbec World Day, hundreds of events were held in 70 cities across 54 countries and the festivities included wine fairs for press and trade, tastings and promotions in wine shops and restaurants.
To coincide with the sixth Malbec World Day which took place this year on Sunday April 17th, the Embassy of the Argentine Republic in Dublin – in association with Wines of Argentina – held the fourth Argentine Wine Fair on Monday 11th April. 28 wineries participated at Ireland’s 2016 Argentine Fair and as well as wines made from the Malbec grape, there were also many other Argentine wine styles on show.
Achaval Ferrer, Alpamanta, Alta Vista, Andeluna Cellars, Bodega Argento, Belasco de Baquedano (seeking rep), Domaine Bousquet, Bodega Budeguer, Bodega Callia, Chakana, Catena Zapata, Dona Paula, Finca Las Moras, El Esteco, El Porvenir de Cafayate (seeking rep), Hess, Kaiken, Krontiras, Luigi Bosca & Familia Arizu, Bodega Malma, Masi Tupungato, Mendel, Bodegas Salentein, Bodega Tonneles, Santa Ana, Trapiche and Familia Zuccardi.
Ireland’s Argentine Trade Tasting took place in the Charlemont Suite at the Hilton Hotel in Dublin 2. Four Argentine wineries travelled to Dublin seeking representation and Tim Atkin MW presented a Masterclass entitled “The Argentina you don’t know” in the restaurant at the Hilton.
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Santa Rita remains the top wine brand in Ireland for the second year running. Santa Rita’s land assets are an important factor in its success. The majority of vineyards are in Alto Jahuel, the Maipo Valley’s best wine-growing Terroir. Santa Rita also has vineyards in other renowned winegrowing valleys such as Limari, Casablanca, Leyda, Rapel, Apalta and Curico.
The label recently announced a three-year partnership between Santa Rita 120 and Arsenal Football Club, framed within the context of the ongoing ‘Living La Vida 120’ campaign.
The wine brand has a long history of innovating and creating wines loved all around the world.
The extensive Santa Rita ranges offer a wide variety of wines for all types of tastes and palates, from the accessible and affordable 120 range to the Reserva, Secret Reserva, Pehuen and the highly-lauded Casa Real.
Casa Real is a world class wine, highly rated by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and available at a fraction of the price of its Bordeaux equivalent
Dona Paula believes that in order to produce high quality wines it’s necessary to have the best vineyards. Thus, all grapes used to produce Dona Paula’s wines come from its own vineyards located at the foothills of the Andes Mountains above Mendoza, a province that concentrates 80% of Argentina’s wine production.
For many years, studies have been carried out on Mendoza’s soils and microclimates; consequently, Dona Paula nowadays owns 703 hectares of vineyards located in the most prominent terroirs of Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley.
These vineyards provide grapes of high enological level, capable of expressing their varietal and territorial traits with great intensity.
Passion, dedication to quality and creativity at Dona Paula Estates ensures the production of unique wines of great depth with elegant and complex aromas and unmistakable varietal purity.
Cono Sur: Another Successful Year
Cono Sur has had a busy year of accolades, market successes and deep consumer engagement here in Ireland with the announcements that it has retained its place as one of Ireland’s Top 10 Wine Brands and it has moved up to 15th Most Admired Wine Brand in the World (Drinks International), rounding off a great 10 months so far.
The release of its limited edition Bicicleta labels celebrating Cono Sur’s sponsorship of the famous Tour de France was one of the highlights for the brand this year. The bottles featured specially-commissioned labels from artist Eliza Southwood and were launched on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin by Irish cycling legend Seán Kelly together with Cono Sur Chief Winemaker Adolfo Hurtado shortly before the 103rd edition of “Le Tour” begun.
The brand also engaged strongly with the on-trade via the inaugural Cono Sur Chef Challenge, held in association with Pallas Foods, where chefs from around the country were invited to submit original recipes that paired with Cono Sur’s 20 Barrels range. From an impressive 30 submissions and a close-run final, the overall winner was Peter Jackson of the Armada Hotel with his Atlantic cod dish.
Finally, Cono Sur also wowed the wine journalists and Dublin sommeliers via a comparative tasting where its top Pinot Noirs were contrasted to those from both the New and Old Worlds.
Cono Sur is the world’s largest producer of Pinot and recognised as both an expert of the grape and a brand that offers the best-value expression of it worldwide with both facts realised in full on the day.
Cono Sur continues to go from strength-to-strength each year and 2016 was no exception. Next year’s shaping up to be just as eventful so watch this space for more from this popular young Chilean brand.
Cono Sur is exclusively distributed by Findlater Wine & Spirit Group.