Winewatch: Chile & Argentina

If further proof of the popularity of Chilean & Argentinean wines were needed, then Chile's usurping of Australia as our top country of origin wine in 2014 and Argentina’s growing share of the Irish wine market can only add to the reputation of these two South American wines.

Chilean expansion

The Wines of Chile’s Trade & Press tasting at the RHA Gallagher Gallery last month offered an opportunity to explore Chile’s expanding wine regions and styles. The event saw some 40 wine enthusiasts attend a Masterclass in New ChileanWine Styles presented by Martin Moran MW and Alvaro Arrigada from Wines of Chile – and that included the new Chilean Ambassador to Ireland HE Manuel Hinojosa.

Chile can be proud of its signature Carmenere grape but the country has been subject to a growing range of wine grapes, styles and regions since it began experimenting with a wider variety of grapes.

New-style red wines from Chile now boast Cinsault and Carignan for example. These emerging styles are starting to capture consumer interest, according to Jean Smullen who organised this year’s Wines of Chile fair.

The overall objective of the event was to introduce Chilean wine to the Irish public through the licensed trade just in time for the beginning of the Christmas trading season.

Chilean wine enjoys a special position in the Irish market having overtaken Australia, the previous wine country-of-origin leader, in terms of volume sold last year.

According to figures taken from the Irish Wine Association’s annual report for 2014 sales of Chilean wine on the Irish market rose 21% to just under 2 million cases from 1.6 million cases, thus overtaking Australia which sank back 6.4% to 1.6 million cases from 1.7 million cases in 2013.

This usurping of the Ozzies gives Chile a 23.5% share of the wine market here, much more than Australia’s 18.6% share. Changed days, then, from 2008 when Australia enjoyed a share of 26% of the Irish wine market.

In the off-trade, sales of Chilean wine showed volume growth of 12% MAT to the end of August 2015 with sales of 1.3 million nine-litre cases worth €137 million, up 13% in value according to Nielsen.

Nielsen’s scan of quarter bottle sales only in the on-trade indicates a 2% drop in both volume and value – from 115,355 nine-litre case equivalents worth €28.5 million MAT to the end of August 2014 to 113,455 nine-litre case equivalents worth €28.1 million MAT to the end of August 2015.



Santa Rita

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Santa Rita Estates comprises three key wine brands, Santa Rita and Carmen from Chile and Doña Paula from Argentina. The team of winemakers and viticulturists on each of the brands are dedicated to producing the best quality wines Chile and Argentina can offer from a diverse range of terroirs.

Santa Rita, the leading Chilean wine in Ireland, has a rich and illustrious history of wine making since 1814. A 10th time ‘Winery of the Year’ recipient from Wine & Spirits magazine, Santa Rita ranks among Chile’s top winemakers and enjoys a global reputation for producing some of the world’s most heavenly wines.

Whilst Santa Rita 120 is the most popular wine brand in Ireland and the most widely-known within the stable, Santa Rita also has a fantastic range of Reserva wines in its portfolio.

Premium Santa Rita wines include the Medalla Real Gran Reserva range and the world class Casa Real. Casa Real is the only Chilean wine to be recognised by Decanter magazine as ‘Wine Legend’ and was awarded 94 points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate for the 2001 and 2002 vintages.

Casa Real Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 is intense ruby-red in colour with an elegant lustre. The nose presents sweet aromas of red and black fruits that meld with notes of fine oak that heighten its complexity. Sweet, ripe, elegant and concentrated on the palate, with ripe, firm and silky tannins and tremendous aging potential.



Viña Carmen


Founded in 1850, Viña Carmen is the oldest winery in Chile. From its inception Carmen has been recognised as a pioneer in both viticulture and winemaking.

Today Carmen is regarded as one of the most important Chilean wineries in the premium wine sector. The current portfolio presents a new image that represents Carmen as a modern brand with a successful history that transcends time.

Carmen Gran Reserva Chardonnay is a harmonious medium-bodied and lightly textured wine with very moreish quince and peach fruits.





De Martino Enologist Marcelo Retamal named the 13th most influential winemaker in the world and the best of Latin America (Decanter June 2015).

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De Martino Winery in Chile has long been at the forefront of innovations in winemaking. The winery’s success in producing world-class wines that are a true reflection of their origin and showing Chile’s unique diversity has now been globally acknowledged by Decanter magazine:

Winemaker Marcelo Retamal has been ranked in 13th place in the world and the best in South America in Decanter’s inaugural list of the most influential winemakers in the globe.

He’s played a crucial role in developing the identity of De Martino wines over the last 20 years and has acknowledged that the distinction is “a reward and recognition for all of us who work at De Martino, the team, the family, the enology, the laboratory, the wine cellar, the viticulture, in brief, for all of us”.

The harmonisation of good food and wine is a central philosophy and has led De Martino to harvest earlier so as to manage the wines’ alcoholic levels.

The expression of origin in the De Martino Legado wines, widely available around Ireland, is achieved by working with different vineyards in the central valleys.

The Legado range seeks to express the essence and individual characteristics which give each label a unique sense of origin, achieved by working with different vineyards from the same producing valley that sometimes can have different yet complementary characteristics. Legado wines are the best expression of specific grape varieties and make an excellent choice when choosing a quality grape to pair with food from the exotic to the simple across all seasons.

De Martino wines are represented in Ireland by Febvre and Company Limited.


Santa Carolina celebrating 140 years of wine-making & heritage

Viña Santa Carolina was founded by Luis Pereyra Cotapos in 1875 and since then the winemaking philosophy defines the brand. Santa Carolina is dedicated to the constant improvement of quality as well as the development and use of new production techniques in the vineyards and wineries.

The mission of the winemaking team at Viña Santa Carolina is to produce excellent quality wines with a focus on innovation and long-term sustainability.

Supplied by Ampersand for over 20 years who’ve a diverse portfolio of Chilean wines among a range that stands out with excellent quality wines at competitive prices.


Antares range

Antares is the brightest star in the southern sky of Chile. The wines are fresh and easy to drink, appealing to the explorers of the world.

These vibrant wines originate close to Patagonia, among volcanic valleys with maritime influence and seducing breezes.

Antares wines are available in six varieties.


Reserva Range

Santa Carolina Reserva Estate wines are born from the vineyards of Chile’s most reputed winegrowing valleys. Each variety, with its particular aromas and flavours, reflects Santa Carolina’s philosophy that seeks to portray the strong links between the land, the climate and the fruit. Discover a taste of each region.



The Embassy of the Argentine Republic in Dublin, in association with Wines of Argentina, held the second Argentine Wine Fair in Dublin’s Hilton Hotel recently.

This year, 34 wineries took part in the Dublin show and over 200 Argentinean wines were available to taste by trade and press, most of them currently available on the Irish market.

While not a leading country of origin wine here, sales of Argentinean wine are nevertheless showing spirit in the UK where sales are up 26% in the last 12 months according to a recent report from the Wine & Spirits Trade Association there.

Here, Argentinean wines accounted for 2.3% of the market in 2014 with sales of 192,796 cases according to the Irish Wine Association’s annual report. This is up 12% from 2013’s 172,611 case figure which gave Argentina a 2.1% share of the wine market here.

Off-trade sales of Argentinean wine were up 10% in both value and volume to 127,778 nine-litre cases according to Nielsen figures MAT to the end of August 2015, worth €14.4 million.

Nielsen’s on-trade scan of quarter-bottle sales revealed a drop in both volumes and values of 24% and 22% respectively suggesting that more could be done to promote sales of the quarter bottle of Argentinean wine the licensed trade.

For more information visit

Doña Paula

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Doña Paula owns over 760 hectares in the premium areas of Luján de Coyo and Uco valleys within the Mendoza region. Although Malbec is the most popular Argentinian varietal, innovation is top of the Doña Paula agenda with successful plantings of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Cabernet Franc amongst others adding breadth and diversity to the traditional Argentinean offerings.

Doña Paula Estate Malbec is an intense violet colour. On the nose, there are pleasant aromas of black fruits, violets and spices. The wine has great balance and freshness in the mouth, with good concentration, medium structure, soft tannins and a persistent finish.




Q&A: Conal Cassidy – Wine Director, C&C Gleeson

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Argentinean wines are a growing presence on the Irish wine market yet not a lot is known about them by the average consumer. What could you tell us about wines from the world’s fifth-largest wine-producing country?

Malbec is the grape pushing forward growth from Argentina but it’s the quality of other traditional and non-traditional varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Syrah and Petit Verdot that are piquing the interest of the trade at the moment. Dona Paula are seeing some stunning results from plantings in the Uco Valley and Lujan de Cuyo area of Mendoza, with a real freshness and elegant style.


What has C&C Gleeson Wines got planned for Argentinean wines this Autumn and Winter?

Doña Paula will enter the Christmas period with a heavyweight Below-The-Line marketing campaign including sampling, gifting options, Christmas hamper giveaways and extremely competitive pricing.


Are you surprised that Chile has overtaken Australia in terms of the most popular wine country of origin for Irish consumers?

Chile continues to produce excellent quality wines at each price point. Consumers are confident both in terms of the value-for-money that Chile offers along with the quality of wines throughout the ranges and tiers and so long as this quality is consistent year-on-year there’s no reason why Chile should not remain the most popular wine country of origin.


Do you think demand will continue to grow for the world’s fourth-largest wine exporter?

 Yes. Chile in the past has been seen as reliable, but it has become more confident, more innovative and open to experimentation, having reached greater maturity as a wine-producing country.

Santa Rita Estates offers a diverse portfolio at each price point, from affordable entry wines to the iconic Casa Real and Chile’s innovative newer styles and varietals from emerging regions add to the excitement of Santa Rita Estates wines, thus creating excitement, intrigue and demand.


How much of a demand have you noticed for more varietals from Chile?

 Santa Rita Estates have a number of experimental plantings of non-traditional varietals in both established and new wine-producing regions which are producing some impressive results. Cabernet Franc is one such varietal being grown in the relatively recently recognised region of Pumanque. Bottled under the Santa Rita Floresta label this varietal is excelling in the cool, coastal climate of Colchagua resulting in complex yet elegant wines. Carmen winemaker Sebastian Labbe is also creating a stir with his Gran Reserva Malbec from Maule, Cinsault from Itata and Carignan from Maule.


What trends have you noticed in Chilean wines?

 Varietally labelled Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon continue to be the best-selling wines from Chile. Blended wines still have the potential to be big and our Santa Rita Secret Reserva red and white blends are making their mark in the market.




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