The 30th London International Wine Fair took place at the ExCel exhibition centre in London’s docklands over three days in May amid warm spring sunshine and attracted over 13,000 visitors.
With Chilean wines doing so well in the British market it was no surprise that the Wines of Chile Pavilion area was a hive of activity and interest.
Twenty four wineries took space on the newly designed stand, and many other Chilean wineries had their own stands nearby, which added to the ‘buzz.’
This year there was also space devoted to the Chile earthquake appeal where visitors were able to study stunning and emotive photographs of people and places affected by the terrible earthquake that shook Chile’s wine regions in February. The images, made by English professional photographer Matt Wilson who lives in the Colchagua Valley, prompted people to donate over £250 to the appeal, and their support entitled them to wear a ‘Viva Chile’ badge. (see the images by clicking on the slide show on the Levantando Chile banner at the top of the Wines of Chile home page)
Each day the Chile pavilion hosted a themed seminar and focus tasting that proved to be sell-out successes and helped to reinforce Chile’s diversity, innovation, and dynamism.
Day One: Tales of the Unexpected
Speakers: Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle (Viña Lapostolle) & Sebastian De Martino (Viña De Martino)
Chile has an extraordinarily dynamic wine culture, and the diversity of wines available today is greater than ever before. The seminar focused on innovation and regional characteristics as well as some of the lesser-known varieties and styles on offer that challenge preconceptions.
These days Carmenere, Chile’s ’signature’ grape is more comfortable in its own skin than ever before. The seminar illustrated how Carmenere, Chile’s ‘prodigal son’ is developing into the pick of the bunch.
Superb natural grape growing conditions mean Chile continues quietly and consistently to grow its organic and biodynamic offer. The seminar enabled visitors to discover more about how the unique geography and a culture of environmental care are sustaining organic growth.
In the Masterclass theatre, Wines of Chile hosted a presentation by award-winning writer and broadcaster Peter Richards entitled ‘Take a Fresh Look at Chile.’ A full house of 75 people was able to hear Peter challenge preconceptions and highlight the substantial and remarkable progress Chile is making, with particular reference to Syrah as a grape variety showing great promise and the development of Chardonnay, notably from the cooler and coastal regions of Chile. Olly Smith, a well known wine journalist who sat in on the seminar said that it was the best and most interesting talk he had ever attended.
Also in the Masterclass theatre, the Circle of Wine Writers ran a tutored tasting and presentation to help raise money for countries that had suffered natural disasters recently, so Chile, Turkey, and Madeira were featured. Chilean journalist Eduardo Brethauer presented a range of eight Carignan wines from the Maule Valley, and talked about the fund raising work that was being done by the newly formed Carignan Club in Chile.
In the Restaurant Magazine ‘On-trade Hub’ area-a stand devoted to helping sommeliers and restaurateurs understand how to make their wine lists work harder for them in these challenging economic times-Michael Cox, Wines of Chile’s UK Director, gave a presentation on Carmenere-Chile’s emblematic grape variety. This proved a good opportunity to launch the new Wines of Chile on-trade initiative: ‘Carmenere - Made for Curry’.
Additional reasons why Chile was the talk of the Fair surrounded the news that Cristian Lopez, who set up Concha y Toro’s UK office ten years ago, had been made the Drinks Business Man of The Year 2010-the highest accolade in the annual Drinks Business Awards. The significant achievement for Cristian reflected the outstanding success he and his team have had with Chile’s number one winery and its range of award winning wines in the UK market.
During the Fair Naked Wines, one of the UK’s most innovative on-line wine retailers, announced that a Chilean wine had been selected from a tasting at the Fair of over 300 wines from boutique wineries seeking UK distribution. The wine, Lagar de Bezana’s Aluvion Gran Reserva, was singled out by 30 of Naked Wines consumers-called ‘archangels’-and the wine was offered on the Naked Wines website on the first day of the Fair. By the end of the second day the parcel of 250 cases (worth £30,000) had sold out!
Many reasons why the wines of Chile are becoming ‘the natural choice.’