Chile shows adventurous approach

31st October, 2013 by Gabriel Stone

Santa Rita Estates is using its new top end Petite Sirah blend Bougainville to highlight the “tremendous” opportunity for Chile to broaden its fine wine perspective.

Santa Rita technical director Andres Ilabaca shows off the Bougainville vineyards and soil

Santa Rita technical director Andres Ilabaca shows off the Bougainville vineyards and soil

Speaking at the wine’s official launch earlier this month, Hector Torres, director of luxury wines for Santa Rita Estates, argued that the country should look beyond a traditional focus on Bordeaux varieties for its top end wines.

Although Pinot Noir is also an increasingly common Chilean fine wine focus, he remarked: “We think the potential for the category is still quite open, both for Santa Rita and Chile as a country. There is a vast array of regions and varieties, different clones, different terroirs and we’re permanently looking at all these to see what could be the opportunity to develop a new icon wine. The more we can elevate the category, the better for the industry.”

While noting that with its Casa Real, Pehuen and Triple C wines, Santa Rita Estates has already covered off top end examples of Chile’s more familiar Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere and blended approaches, Torres stressed the originality of Bougainville, which it first showed at Vinexpo earlier this year. “This is a unique wine, one that nobody else has in Chile or South America. I think that the opportunity is tremendous,” he said.

With 41 hectares of Petite Sirah planted across Maipo and Colchagua, Santa Rita claims around 22% of Chile’s estimated total 188ha plantings of this variety.

Despite its relatively small presence in Chile, Torres highlighted the growing popularity of Petite Sirah in the US, where it is found not just in California and Washington State but also on the East Coast in Maryland and Virginia. “It’s growing very quickly in the US, about 30% a year,” he claimed, reporting total US Petite Sirah plantings of 3,502ha.

For all the growing popularity of Petite Sirah in the US, which is also one of Chile’s largest export markets, Torres suggested that it would be “challenging” to build large scale success with Bougainville here. Although noting “The main advantage is that they are more familiar with the grape,” he added: “but it’s difficult too as it’s different to what they are used to.”

Turning to Brazil, an increasingly important market for Chile’s top end wines, Torres described the market as “a big question mark” as a result of the grape variety’s lack of familiarity here. He cited this issue as an obstacle in Asia, although added: “We may get some help from Australia as they have some success with this variety and Australian wines are quite well known in Asia.”

However, offering a final prediction on the most promising markets for the new wine, Torres suggested: “Canada should be important,” adding: “I think in the UK too we can be quite successful.”

With an RRP of around £60, Bougainville features Petite Sirah grown on pergola-trained vines in the Alto Jahuel sub-region of Maipo, with Syrah from Limari making up 15% of the final blend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

On-Trade Regional Sales Manager

Anthony Byrne Fine Wines
London and the South East, UK

Commercial Director

The Drinks Business Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Key Accounts Manager - Impulse Channel

Australian Vintage Limited
Croydon, Greater London, United Kingdom, UK

Sales Support Assistant

H2Vin Ltd
London, UK

Sales Administrator

Les Caves de Pyrène
Guildford, Surrey

Sales Order Processor

Amathus Drinks
Park Royal, London NW10, UK

Sales Executive (London – Craft Spirits)

Bimber Distillery
London, UK

Events & PR Co-ordinator

Alliance Wine
London, UK

Partner Development Manager - That Boutique-y Gin Company

That Boutique-y Gin Company
Field Based, UK

Head of Merchant Sales

Grapevine the Wineservice Company
Cumbria, UK

Business Development Manager – Central London

Marussia Beverages UK Ltd
Field based – London, UK

Account Manager – Premium Restaurants, London

Kingfisher Beer Europe Ltd
London (Central), UK

Field Sales Representative - Beer Innovation

Elastic
Various locations, UK

Events Executive

The Drinks Business
London, UK

Area Sales Executive

Gordon & Macphail
Southern England (excluding London) and Inner London, UK

The Global Beer Masters 2017

Deadline : 1st August 2017

Champagne Masters 2017

Deadline : 4th August 2017

Global Chardonnay Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th August 2017

The Global Riesling Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th August 2017

Click to view more

The Global Organic Masters 2017

The drinks business is thrilled to announce the launch of The Global Organic Masters

The Drinks Business Awards 2017

Now in its 15th year, the db awards have become the most authoritative, internationally respected badge of achievement in the alcoholic drinks industry.

The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters 2017

the drinks business Hong Kong announces its first year of The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters.

Rioja Masters 2016

Now in its fifth year, the competition will recognise and reward the finest Riojas on the world stage.

Click to view more