Icon launch supports premium Chile push

Chilean producer Santa Carolina has launched an icon wine, Herencia, as part of its strategic shift towards building its premium range in export markets. The move comes as rising prices and difficult exchange rates begin to weaken Chile’s competitiveness with entry level wines in the global marketplace.

Pointing out that grape prices have soared in the wake of the 2010 earthquake, while the peso has lost 15% of its value against the US dollar, Santiago Larraín, managing director of Carolina Wine Brands, observed: “The price of bulk wine has doubled in the last 12 months in Chilean pesos and the exchange rate has made it worse than that.”

Herencia has been developed by Andrés Caballero, who was hired as Santa Carolina’s director of winemaking in 2005. Following six months of experimental blending, the final wine is 94% Carmenère from Peumo, with 5% made up from Maipo Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Malbec.

The finished product carries a label based on the winery’s 1952 design and is packaged in a heavy glass bottle, slightly controversial for the European markets, but an approach that the brand has found to be very successful with its growing Asian consumer base.

A limited number of the 5,600 bottles produced in the inaugural 2007 vintage have been made available to the UK through distributors Percy Fox. The wine is expected to retail for about £100.

Outlining distribution plans for the brand in the UK, Caroline Thompson-Hill, brand manager for Santa Carolina at Percy Fox, explained: “We are working to increase distribution of their Reserva and Specialities ranges in both the on-trade and off-trade.”

Santa Carolina, which exports 85% of its production to nearly 90 markets, saw its volume sales increase by 28% during the last year, double the already very positive growth seen by the Chile as a whole.

Gabriel Savage, 21.06.2011

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