Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Welcome to the Organic and Sustainably-farmed Wines of Chile

Welcome to the organic and sustainably-farmed wines of Chile

Story and photos by Dwight Casimere

Photos 1-3

Organic and sustainable-farmed wines of Chile at their London ExCel Pavilion

Photo #4 colas Montero-Export Manager, Carolina Wine Brands, Santiago, Chile

Photo #5 Dwight The Wine Doctor on Kensington High Street, London

LONDON—Chile is making aggressive moves to promote its organic and sustainable-farmed wines. In the past few months, new arrivals have been flooding the shelves of the major U.S. wine stores and some 90 countries around the world with new wines developed with eco-friendly practices. The results are wines that are not only high in quality, but benefit the environment.

Chile is located in the most southern part of the Americas. It has the perfect combination of climate, soil type, natural barriers, tradition, and, especially, a passion for producing fine wine from the New World.

Cono Sur’s winemaking team, headed by Chief Winemaker & General Manager Adolfo Hurtado, made an impressive display of the brand’s new wines at this summer’s London International Wine Fair. Ensconced in an impressively designed pavilion in the very center of London’s ExCel convention center, Cono Sur made a strong case for the viability of eco-friendly wines.

Cono Sur Vineyards & Winery was founded in 1993, with the vision of producing premium innovative wines that conveyed the spirit of the New World. The name refers to the geographic location of the company and its vineyards. Representing wines from South America’s southern Cone, Cono Sur applies new ideas and technologies to traditional winemaking methods to produce wines of distinctive character. The bicycle on the label represents the spirit of their workers, who pedal their way to and from the vineyards, a symbol of both their commitment to not leave a negative ‘footprint’ on the environment and to preserve the rule of nature’s cycles.

Cono Sur’s organic vineyards are certifiably farmed without the aid of any chemical or synthetic products. Fertilization and the prevention and control of disease is accomplished through the use of natural techniques and resources such as flowers, grasses, geese and the introduction of beneficial insects.

All of the major varietals, including Sauvignon Blanc ($12.99), Chardonnay ($10.99), Pinot Noir ($15.98) and Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenere ($15.99) blend are produced under Cono Sur’s organic umbrella. The wines all sell in the very comfortable $10-$20 range, with even their spectacular sustainable Agriculture Pinot Noir selling at a comfortable $12.99. Cono Sur ‘Vision’ Pinot Noir Central Valley also goes for a reasonable $13.99).

Cono Sur is becoming known for its Pinot Noir, which is fabulous!

“Our Pinot Noir started in 1999, with the goal of making the best Pinot Noir in all of Chile!” proclaimed Chief Winemaker Hurtado as he poured me a glass of his latest vintage at his ExCel pavilion. “We have some of the oldest Pinot Noir vineyards in Chile and we were the first to produce Premium Pinot Noir.” Hurtado enlisted the aid of renowned French winemaker Martin Prieur of the Burgundy region to advise his team on terroir selection and vineyard management.

Across the aisle Export Manager Nicolas Montero of Carolina Wine Brands was holding court with his wide section of wines that span the entirety of Chile’s fertile growing regions and into Argentina.

“CWB has more than a century of fine-wine making experience,” Montero said while pouring a glass of his exceptional Vistana Cabernet-Merlot blend from the Central Valley, Chile ($9.99). “Today our exports reach more than 80 countries. Our U.S. turnover is over 50 million cases in sales.” Currently, CWB has four winemaking facilities located in the Maipo, Colchagua, Curico and Mendoza regions of Chile.

Santa Carolina is the company’s flagship brand. Founded in 1875, it is now 130 in existence. As the foundation of Carolina Wine Brands, it is the standard-bearer as the wine continues in the 21st century. “When you look at the 20th century, Santa Carolina was the #1producer of the wines of Chile. We are looking forward to positioning the brand in the 21st Century as a fine wine brand. We see it as a fantastic opportunity to work with one of Chile’s most prestigious brands and to make it a success,” Montero said. “I’m proud of them, because the wines reflect our heritage and our personality. The wines are expressive and come from very rich soil.”

I was surprised how supple and elegant the wine was at such a reasonable price. I think I kept saying over and over..”And this is only $9??!!”

Montero responded with a knowing smile.

“There’s nothing quite like Chilean wine,” he continued. “You can really see in them the unbreakable chain between the soil, the climate and our winemaking techniques. There is a passion that we have about winemaking that is expressed in the bottle!”

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