Wines of Chile was pleased to host 16 Masters of Wine from around the world recently on their 10-day visit of Chilean wine regions. The group, which included wine writers, consultants, buyers, and educators, toured 19 wineries in 8 wine valleys and had a group tasting with members of the independent vintner’s movement MOVI.
Lynne Sherriff (UK, current MW Chair), Pedro Ballesteros Torres (Spain, Belgium), Mark de Vere (UK, USA), Mary Ewing-Mulligan (USA), Patrick Farrell (USA), Adrian Garforth (UK), Susan Hulme (UK), Melanie Jones (UK), Linda Jotham (UK), Peter Koff (USA), Jonathan Pedley (UK), Philip Reedman (UK, Australia), Igor Ryjenkov (Canada), Rod Smith (France), Philip Tuck (UK), and Fergal Tynan (UK) began their tour in the north with the Elqui and Limarí Valleys, which none of these international experts had visited previously, and continued through Aconcagua, San Antonio/Leyda, Maipo, Colchagua, Curicó, and Maule.
Although most of the MWs had visited Chile before, all expressed their delight at being able to explore newer regions, taste new wines, and meet with winemakers and others from the national wine industry.
Lynne Sherriff, Chair of the Institute of Masters of Wine, in Chile for her sixth time, spoke for the group when she commented, “We have been amazed at the diversity we have seen here and the work the wineries are doing with planting in new areas.”
Fergal Tynan, a wine consultant from the UK who has worked with Chilean wineries for many years, added, “It was also impressive to see the recovery of old vines in Maule and the willingness of the wineries to experiment with new techniques, such as egg-shaped fermenters. Chile is a very dynamic wine region.”
The Institute of Masters of Wine promotes excellence in wine and expects its members to exhibit a comprehensive understanding of the art, science, and business of wine. Their trip to Chile was part of their mission to maintain an in-depth knowledge of wine regions from around the world.
One of the highlights of the trip was a blind tasting at Viña Errázuriz dubbed “The Aging Potential Challenge.” The MWs were asked to taste through a flight of Chilean and French wines with vintages ranging from 1983 to 2008. All agreed that each of the wines, including a 1983 Don Maximiano (Cabernet Sauvignon) produced before the winery was modernized, were well made and long-lived. Furthermore, when asked for personal favorites, two Chilean wines–Seña 1995 and 1997, respectively–trumped the French Chateau Latour 1988.
“The outcome of this blind tasting goes to show yet once again that Chilean wines not only stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the most prestigious wines of the world, but also have an excellent aging potential,” said Juan Somavía, Managing Director of Wines of Chile.
Bonus Track: the MW Poem
by Mel Johnson, MW
A lot happens during ten days on the road–as these 16 Masters of Wine can surely tell you! Mel Johnson, MW summed it all up in this poem that she read to the group as they wound up their trip, en route to the airport. She concludes with special thanks to Wines of Chile Hospitality Manager, Gail Thornton, who managed to keep them all on track–and smiling throughout their stay in Chile.
We thank you for showing us Chile
A country quite long, thin and hilly
To study the vine
The Masters of Wine
Learnt a lot, but were also quite silly.
Our base was in east Santiago
With a walking-alone strict embargo
The tastings began
The Bordeaux blends sang
In contention with Pauillac or Margaux
To keep us on time and on track
Was a spirited girl with the knack
Of signalling time
With a neck-cutting mime
Gail, we love you, and want to come back
We’ve sniffed and we’ve sipped and we’ve sucked
Wines assessed, sometimes Pedley’d or Tuck’d
In Leyda, the acid
Was nowhere near flaccid
But at no point has anyone chucked.
Up a hill that was steep and was long
A loud-shirted and maverick throng
Though chaotic and loud
This garagiste crowd
Might be crazy, but clearly belong.
Limarí was cold, damp and bleak
But with pits to attract the wine geek
Round and alluvial
Square and colluvial
Everywhere, so not very unique (in joke, apols to JP).
This coastal and mountainous nation
Needs flooding or drip irrigation
Less work in Colchagua
Or in Aconcagua
For a meteorological station.
A mention of specialist skills
First to Pat for administering pills
Fergal’s Chilean lore
Linda spotting Latour
Pedro’s useful translation infills
On a fruit day, with plenty of sun
Where the peacocks and hens gaily run
Nothing seems madder
Than buried deer bladder
We’re not certain, Maria the Tun.
The ceviche of seafood we adored
At MOVI my sweetbread heart soared
With squashed avocado
Sea bass with Eduardo
But the breakfast meringue was ignored
Masters of wine, let’s be clear
Are quite partial to freezing cold beer
And whatever the hour
A chilled Pisco sour
Gives a tannin-stained mouth goodly cheer.
But, when tasting, in serious mood
They’re professional, studious, good,
Sometimes dialogues fade
But young Philip and Ade
Were a double act, giggling and lewd.
Hotels changed; yes we stayed in a few
But in Concón the best ocean view
In the icy Pacific
The swimming’s terrific
And the roar as we fell asleep too.
And of course, there were scrapes and some cuts
Caused by locals who clearly were nuts
A spat with a driver
Because of a fiver
And a cul de sac full of wild mutts.
We lunched under rafters and willow
In the shade, where the weeping fronds billow
The time over-ran
As the thank-yous began
Racing back to the bus, with a pillow.
Enormous respect, Wines of Chile
We loved your thin country, so hilly
The star of this tale
Is the fabulous Gail
An organised, humorous filly.