Wines of Chile – High Quality, Great Value
Photos by Becky Solomon
Wines of Chile hosted their Fall Festival Tour on September 25th 2007. The tour featured 200 wines from 26 producers, highlighted a great new foundation and even had live llamas to greet guests on the red carpet.
Cool is Hot
The best place to start is the educational tables where you will have access to some of the most knowledgeable wine pros and educators in town.
One such educator is David Scholefield who presented an educational station of cool climate Syrahs. He explained that we as Canadians tend to think of Pinot Noir as a cool climate grape, and Syrah as thriving in hot climates. However the Chileans think of Pinot Noir and Syrah as being more similar. Consequently, they have some fantastic cool climate Syrahs: try the stony, dusty and spicy Secreto from Viu Manet, or the juicy and gamey Syrah from Casas del Bosque.
Cool climate wines were popular with the crowd. A cool climate pioneer, Maria Luz, (Founder, Winemaker and CEO of Casa Marin) was drawn to the weather in Chile - at a time when most wines were coming from the hot Central Valley. Casa Marin became the first major producer in the cool climate region of Casablanca, and their Pinot Noirs were the darlings of the event.
Fair Trade Wines
As if the product wasn’t enough to make you feel good about Chilean wine, Vinos los Robles winery and their importer, Chilean Wine House, were proud to announce their recent Trans Fair Canada Fair Trade certification. Fair Trade is an alternate trading system that guarantees a fair minimum price to farmers and workers in developing countries. Also additional money is invested in farmer chosen development projects which have strict environmental and labor requirements.
Mauricio Borquez, Executive Director of Chilean Wine House, says “we believe in fair trade worldwide. The winery pays workers a fair price, and we believe it is a good cause. We've been working toward it for two years and just now the paperwork went through. It is fair trade all the way from the worker to the winery to the consumer.”
Movers and Shakers
The event attracted key industry leaders from the Chilean wine world including Michel Bouiey from Santiago based Wines of Chile, and Arturo Cousino from the 150 year old Cousino-Macul winery.
Bouiey was proud to be presenting some of the finer wines from Chile, informing me that “when Chile began exporting wines they didn’t have a high end strategy it was all ‘value wines’; now we’re focused on producing high end wines. The main thing now is quality for a reasonable price. We love what we’re doing.....there's passion it it".
Cousino-Macul also presented some terrific wines, including their Sauvignon Gris – a grape they brought over from France in 1860 before the European Sauvignon Gris vines were all destroyed by phylloxera (a devastating infestation of tiny vine-hungry insects). Having produced over 80 vintages, the winery has a very long history. Cousino is conscious of the winery’s historical French connections saying that the wines were “originally very Bordeaux oriented, which has changed to a ‘new world’ style, but not entirely.”
Sample, Learn, Enjoy
In addition to the high end wines, the event appealed to a sophisticated yet casual consumer. Richard Michalenko, Wine rep for Authentic Wine and Spirits, was impressed with the guests’ genuine interest in the wines, noting that they “really want to learn about the wines”. If you only think of Chilean wines as great values this event was a perfect opportunity to dive into the higher end premium wines. For the price of one really nice bottle you got to taste hundreds of wines, discover new favorites and help the foundation.
BC Hospitality Foundation
The event benefited the BC Hospitality Foundation, an organization formed last fall to establish and endow a trust fund that could be used as a safety net for those in the hospitality, beverage and foodservice industries. For this event the funds where provided through a silent auction featuring premium items like a Harrison Hot Springs spa retreat, a wine-paired dinner for two at O’Doul’s restaurant and draw prizes that included a trip for two to Chile and a Mini Cooper. Overall the night was one to remember – a buena fiesta de Chile!
By Becky Solomon
For Becky’s favorite Chilean wines click here www.beckysolomon.blogspot.com.
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