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Leading wine experts comment: “Chilean wine’s future is as bright as it is valuable”

17 February 2012 | Categorías: Interesting articles, Wine Magazine Print

They were judges in Chile’s most important wine competition: the Annual Wines of Chile Awards.

Recently held in Santiago, the 9th version of the Annual Wines of Chile Awards (AWoCA) -Chile’s most important wine competition, organized by Wines of Chile- brought to this country nine internationally renowned experts who selected the best wines of Chile after a five days of tasting.

About a month later, judges’ first publications are now coming out in the press, highlighting the great diversity of Chile’s terroirs and the search for origin as the main personality traits of the country’s wine industry today.

In their reports, the experts speak of a new Chile, one that has grasped the wide range of climates and soils from North to South, and especially from East to West in the meager 150 km that lie between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains, and captured it in the country’s winegrowing map by introducing three new zones: Costa, Andes and Entre Cordilleras.

The judges also focused on the development of emerging varieties such as Syrah and Riesling, two of the big winners at AWoCA that impressed the judges with their diversity and quality.

Special recognition was given to Riesling, which despite being an emerging variety was able to outrank more established varieties in the “Best Other Whites” category. That honor was awarded to Concha y Toro’s Terrunyo Riesling 2011, which earned this major award for its first vintage, released just a few weeks ago.

The judges’ opinions

Anthony Gismondi, one of Canada’s most influential wine critics, and editor in chief of Wine Access

Anthony Gismondi[…] The new Chile is awash in appellations or designated zones of production that signal a willingness on everyone’s part to produce precision wines.

Chile’s unique shape (long and thin), and its location crammed between the snow-covered Andes and the cold Pacific Ocean, has inspired its producers to further delineate their wines as coming from the coast (Costa), between the mountains (Entre Cordilleras) or from the foothills to the east (Andes). Demarcating wine zones with an eye to temperature and elevation makes a lot of sense, especially when it’s laid over more traditional appellations.

As difficult as it might be for some to accept, it is more logical than granting certain areas “grand cru” or “premier cru” status for life, no matter who is making the wine or how they care for the property. Clearly, Chilean wine’s future is as bright as it is valuable.

The 2012 Hot List: Chile, Wine Access,  February 13, 2012

Bill St John, US wine writer and wine critic for the Chicago Tribune

Bill St. JohnDear Chile:

I am happy I came to see you again. You are one of my favorite countries to visit. Whenever I come to you — this was the third time — I always feel as if I am sneaking into a special place, hidden behind a secret panel.

[…] The old story — that Chile produces delicious red and white wines, especially red, at a very reasonable price — has become a boring story. You need to tell us about your more exciting wines, your up-and-comers, the distinctive sauvignon blancs from your north; unoaked chardonnay from your coast; electric, characterful syrah and carmenere from your hills.

[…] Something is bound to come along, something interesting and distinctive; that is what bursts bubbles or prevents people from yawning in the middle of a story. Can it be something from Chile?

Yes, if you tell the story about who you are and act on it. Your greatest strength is your diversity of terroir. Chile is replete with places that do or can make distinctive wines, red or white, such as Limari or Maule or Bio Bio — there are dozens.

People want to drink wine that speaks to them about where it was born. People do not want to listen to boring stories. Terroir is the way a vine tells us its story. The winemaker, the style-maker, the marketer, they cannot speak the place. Only the place has its voice and can tell its story.

Letter to Chile, Chicago Tribune, February 1,  2012

Peter Richards, Master of Wine and UK wine writer

Peter Richards[…] Syrah and Riesling were unquestionably the headlining acts – the latter a very pleasant surprise, given it is only an emerging variety in Chile. In fact, we judges were so impressed by the diversity and quality on show within these categories that we felt we couldn’t just award one ‘Best in Category’ prize.

In the Riesling category we awarded two top gongs to contrasting styles … Concha y Toro’s Terrunyo Riesling 2011 from Casablanca […]

Syrah shines in Chile, SusieandPeter.com, January 16, 2012

Marcelo Copello, one of the most influential wine journalists in Brazil and the director of BACO Multimedia

Macelo Copello[…] The judges of this AWoCA favored wines with a refreshing mineral style. It is no coincidence that the big winners at this competition were the cold climate regions that deliver more refreshing wines, such as Limarí, Elqui, San Antonio, Casablanca and Bio Bio.

[…] The biggest surprises at this competition were Syrah and Riesling, varieties that were represented by excellent wines from very distinct regions and with very distinct styles.

AWoCA: O Maior Concurso de Vinhos do Chile, Veja Rio, January 23, 2012