New World Wines
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By Ravi V. Chhabra
A tiny country spanning long and narrow 4200 kms strip of land along the extreme southwestern coast of South America is challenging world’s finest wine producing countries.
In the last 5 years the importations of wine coming from Chile into India have increased constantly. Today, Chile is the 7th exporter of bottled wine to India and the main kinds of wine imported are the following; Chardonnay (19%), Merlot (17%), Cabernet Sauvignon (16%), Sauvignon Blanc (15%), Pinot Noir (4%) and Carménère (3%).
The Chilean Wine Tour held at Hotel The Lalit in New Delhi showcased the phenomenal popularity of Chilean Wines in India. The show was presided over by the Chilean Ambassador to India Mr. Cristián Barros. Speaking to fnbworld.com, Mr. Nestor Riveros, Minister Counsellor Commercial, told us about the various facets of the Chilean wine.
fnbworld: What is the reason for the popularity of Chilean wines in the world in recent years?
Riveros: In Chile, the world makes wine for the world. In last 30 years, companies like Miguel Torres from Spain and Rothschild and Marnier Group from France and others as well have come to Chile to make some of the best wines in opposite season. Furthermore the production has also risen mainly because of the usage of steel tanks introduce in the 80’ that allow to rise from the 30 traditional wineries once to around 280 presently.
The main reason for the popularity of the Chilean wines is that it exports its best wines which amount to be 69% of the total production. The other wine producing countries aren’t able to do so since they have considerable domestic consumption by higher purchase power and strong tourism sector. The Chilean wines therefore are the best value for money.
With the ever-expanding wine industry Chile now ranks no.12 in wine plantation, no. 9 in wine production and no.5 in wine exports.
fnbworld: What makes the Chilean wines different from the French wines?
Riveros: Chile is surrounded by the Atacama Desert in the north, Antarctica in south; Andes snow mountains in east and the Pacific ocean in west making it a phytosanitary island, hence providing very healthy growth to grapes and is free from pest and plagues. As a matter of fact the Chilean wines were originally from Europe. Carmenere was originally a French wine but the grape was wiped out from France by the Phylloxera pest only to be rediscovered in Chile in the last two decade.
fnbworld: How would you compare the Californian fruity wines with Chilean wines?
Riveros: Both the wines are exceptional in quality but, are produced in opposite seasons in United States and Chile. And that is why American vineyards have come to Chile and Concha y Toro invest in USA to seek a year long production.
fnbworld: What are your plans for popularizing your wines in India?
Riveros: In India, we plan to design such type of commercial activities which highlight the goodness of wine as an essential element to be paired with the amazing and varied Indian gastronomy. It is beneficial for health as it is a product with much less alcoholic content in comparison with sprits.
All around the world, wine adds glamour to even a simple dinner, so just imagine wines with the Indian cuisines.
To expand the awareness of wine we area going to running promotional wine tasting in the main cities of India all year around.
fnbworld: What was the reason for holding the Chilean Wine Tour in Delhi? And what has been the feedback?
Riveros: Our main objective was to promote the Chilean brands which are not present in the market at this point of time. We helped them to connect with the importers and distributors and there have been some useful meetings.
We are thinking in long term about the wine consumption in India when the country will reach its full tourism potential in future. We also have in mind the future trade policies of the Indian government which will give Indian market an opening at par with other international markets in terms of the entry of wines, providing Indians with an access to high quality wines considering that in Indian hotels one pays six times more than others hotels in the region.
fnbworld: Which is the most popular selling wine variety internally and for export from Chile?
Riveros: Chile has an excellent Terroir valley for the production of both red and white wine. Among the red wines Chile offers excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz (Syrah), Merlot and Carmenere.
The white wines like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are also well known worldwide.
fnbworld: What is the total volume of export of Chilean wines to India?
Riveros: $ 600,000. That is 12 times less than the amount we are selling e.g. in Vietnam.
fnbworld: Do you think that Indian wines have a good scope in Chile and in the world market?
Riveros: Yes, they have a good perspective and I am sure that along with the China, it will be one of the biggest suppliers to the international market in the near future, including to that of Chile. We also expect Chile could offer the perspective to the Indian wineries to produce wines from Chile and similarly some Chilean vineyards are evaluating to install in India. But for the abovementioned to be realised, it is important that the international market will be more receptive to the Indian brands for which India should also be ready to welcome wines from other countries with more open facilities.