Wines of Chile challenged four teams of somms to build their bar inspired by the diversity of Chile’s landscape, people and wines to woo the 400 bar guests into voting for their bar as the best. Attendees’ votes were weighted with the opinions of the judges (Hector Vergara, Latin America’s only Master Sommelier, Jennifer Flowers, editor at Travel + Leisure, Geoff Kruth COO at the Guild of Sommeliers, and Chilean chef Sisha Ortúzar) to pick a winning team based on their concept and visual appeal, wine selection and knowledge, service and overall story.
After a busy day of bar building, and a full evening pouring 32 wines, Anna-Lisa Campos of Momofuko restaurant steered her somm team into victory with their bar, Earth’s End. Their prize? A once-in-a-lifetime trip to Chile visiting top tourism destinations and wineries with LATAM and Turismo Chile.
“We were so happy and thrilled and surprised,” Campos says about the win. “All of the teams did such an amazing job that it really felt like anyone’s game. The experience was fun, challenging and rewarding – way more than I would have ever anticipated! The opportunity to build a bar with friends and colleagues, while immersing ourselves in the wine and culture of Chile was a unique one, and an opportunity that we are all so grateful for.”
Not only was it chance for the sommeliers to present Chilean wines to a new public but the sommeliers also found that the experience changed their own perception of Chilean wine. “My view of Chilean wine before the event was probably the prevailing idea of big, value-driven Cab-based blends and little else,” explained Finis Terrae captain, Chris Raftery. “My view has essentially been flipped onto its head, and my favorite wines of the event ranged from crisp, refreshing, dry PX, to high-altitude, limestone-based, very Northern Rhone-ish Syrah. The variations in microclimate is astounding and it’s really exciting to learn that we are really just tapping into the potential of the wildly different regions of Chile.”
The other three teams, led by captains Victoria James of Marea, Morgan Harris, formerly of Jean-Georges, and Chris Raftery of Corkbuzz, also impressed judges so much that they will be taken to Chile too in the new year so they can also experience some Chilean hospitality and visit the remarkable tourism destinations.
After the success in New York, Wine Bar War will now be traveling to other states in the USA to challenge more sommeliers and invite more consumers to get to see and taste the ‘new Chile’. “This event was a total contrast, out-of-the-box, fun, and I can really see it making a difference in the image of Chilean wines,” said Geoff Kruth COO at the Guild of Sommeliers.
Wine Bar War could be coming to a town near you soon!