Sip by sip, bottle by bottle, Chilean wine is reinventing its image in the world’s largest wine market – the United States.
As a multitude of venues and wine pros in the U.S. begin exploring the diverse range of varietals and blended wines that are produced in this faraway Andean nation, Chile’s profile is on the rise.
In a recent article for the Beverage Media Group, W.R. Tish investigated how Chilean wines are being perceived by venue owners and industry cognoscenti across the industry’s target market for 2012.
Far from being thought of as just a great value, the article found that Chilean wine is increasingly being recognized for its unique blend of old world philosophy and innovation, its purity of fruit and its diversity of climate.
“This next generation of winemakers is very precise,” Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer told Tish.
“Many are from the Northern Hemisphere and work two harvests, so they have broad experience,” Dexheimer said, adding that Chilean technology in both the production facilities and vineyards is state-of-the-art, including infrared scanners that have helped growers match varieties to soil types.
Another factor behind the wave of restaurants and venues taking up Chilean wines is their compatibility with the dinner table.
Rodrigo Davila, the beverage director for the Texas de Brazil group of restaurants, said that his restaurants rotated a variety of wines on his lists for this reason, saying that Chilean red goes particularly well with the beef-heavy Churrascaria fare.
But it’s not just red wine – the traditional Chilean export heavy weight – that is gaining traction, white wines are also increasingly making a splash. Davila described Sauvignon Blanc as the emerging as a signature Chilean white, distinctive for its crisp acidity and an ideal companion for seafood and salads.
Yet a major aspect of the appeal of Chilean wine is its diversity.
“The wines are a fantastic blend of old world highlights with new world accessibility,” explained David Lombardo, wine and beverage director for the Benchmarc group in NYC. “One of my favorite aspects is the diversity of the land enabling so many different classic grapes to thrive and shine.”