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MW Chile trip sees 1,224 bottles poured into 7,344 glasses

As 30 MWs finished a seven-day tour of Chile on Saturday evening, it was announced that they had worked through as many as 1,224 bottles from 7,344 glasses.

Francis Mallman and Angélica Valenzuela at Fuegos de Apalta – the celebrity chef’s restaurant at Vina Montes, where the MWs dined on day four of the tour

Revealing the figures from the intensive week-long trip was Angélica Valenzuela, who is commercial director at Wines of Chile, when speaking at the final dinner of the tour, which was held at the La Bodeguita in Santiago – a restaurant owned by Miguel Torres

Aside from the high number of bottles, which represented as many as 204 different samples shown over 10 seminars, the group of 30 Masters of Wine had also travelled more than 1,100km on the road, as well as a further few hundred by air – one day of the trip saw the group fly from Santiago to the port of Concepción, which is the entry point to the Itata wine region.

The MWs were treated to the broadest scope of Chilean wines available today, from the far northern region of Huasco in the Atacama, to the most southerly planting in commercial production, with Casa Silva’s Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling from Patagonia’s Lake Ranco, 600 miles south of Santiago at 40 degrees latitude. 

The trip also featured all of Chile’s top-end labels, from Almaviva to Don Melchor and Casa Real, while it culminated in a tasting at the Errázuriz winery in Aconcagua, where Eduardo Chadwick showed a range of current and historic vintages of his finest wines, including Don Maximiano, Seña and Viñedo Chadwick.

To make sure the wines were poured into the same Riedel stemware at every tasting, the Wines of Chile team travelled with as many as 900 glasses, which had to be washed and polished by hand ahead of each seminar.

As well as the wines, the MWs were treated to a range of memorable meals and events, from lunch at Montes with celebrity Argentine chef Francis Mallmann to a skills display of Chilean polo ponies at Casa Silva – which has its own polo pitch.

Also addressing the MWs on the final night of the trip was Mario Pablo Silva, former president of Wines of Chile, who thanked the MWs for attending the tour, while saying that they could always call Chile their home.

Sadly, current WoC president, Aurelio Montes, was unable to attend the dinner as he underwent a successful heart bypass operation 10 days ago – and we wish him the very best for a rapid recovery.

Finally, referring to the mass demonstrations that have taken place over the last month in Chile, chairman of the IMW, Adrian Garforth MW, stressed the need for the wine community to remain closely connected when times are testing.

Clearly this is a time of political strive in Chile, but the wine world is a small place, and in times of adversity we need to pull together – and you will always have a friend in the IMW,” he said.

Indeed, welcoming the group on the first day of the tour, Isabel Guilisasti, whose family have a majority shareholding in Concha y Toro, spoke movingly to the guests, aware that the social and political unrest in Santiago during recent weeks may have led them to doubt whether it was sensible to visit the country.

“In these difficult days, for us to have you here is an honour,” she said.

Following the tour, a full report on Chile’s current wine scene, including news of the latest plantings, and top-performing labels, will appear on the January edition of the drinks business.

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