Chile moves into premium wine market

Chile moves into premium wine market News Wine News
  • Friday 20 July 2001

For the first time ever a Chilean winery is releasing a premium Chardonnay – with a premium price tag.

Leyenda is produced by Viña de Larose – part of the French insurance group AGF, which owns Larose Trintaudon in Bordeaux – in the Cachapoal valley, just south of the capital Santiago. It will sell for US$30 (£20).

'Our new cuvée proves that Chile is capable of achieving quality at a level connoisseurs dream of,' sales manager Matthias von Campe said. 'This is in response to international demand,' he added.

At the same time Château Dassault in St-Emilion has just gone into partnership with San Pedro, the neighbouring vineyard to Larose. There they will be producing a premium red wine. Pascal Chatonnet, the Bordeaux-based oenologist who visited the area on behalf of Dassault, says the region is well adapted to the production of white, but he's doubtful if the high price tag will sell.

Almost all premium Chilean wine is Cabernet, Syrah or Merlot-based. Errázuriz produces the Casablanca Valley Wild Ferment Chardonnay at US$22 (£14), but there are no Chardonnays above that price.

'The Leyenda Chardonnay is good,' Chatonnet says. 'But whether it will sell at the price they are demanding is not for me to say. Each has his own conception of what a wine is worth. On the face of it, it does seem expensive.'

San Pedro already produces a white Chardonnay, but not at that price. 'Far from it,' Chatonnet said.

Franck Bijon, winemaker for Larose Trintaudon as well as Viña de Larose in Chile, said of the red they also produce, 'It's a special selection of 12,000 bottles made from 60-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon vines, vinified in exactly the same way as a Médoc Cru Classé.'

At Vinexpo 2001 in Bordeaux, the Leyenda red won the Gold Medal at the International Wine Challenge and also the silver Trophy at the 2001 Wine Olympiades.

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