The Chilean wine industry can expect no support whatsoever from the domestic market and depends for its very survival on increasing exports.

‘Export or die’ was the message veteran Chilean producer Eduardo Chadwick (pictured) brought to an audience of wine professionals in London last night.

‘We are a very small country with an average per capita income of $5,000. We either make it in the export market or we don’t make it. We have nothing to fall back on,’ Chadwick, president of Chilean producer Vina Errazuriz, said at the annual Wine and Spirits Education Trust lecture in Vintners Hall.

Chadwick’s vision for the future of Chile was that it should rival Australia and be recognised as ‘the world’s alternative source of premium wines’. At present, he said, Chile had some 6% of the world market and by 2010 that should have grown to 10%.

He stressed that the UK market was the priority, and that the new Wines of Chile office (opening in London in as little as three weeks under the directorship of former Coca-Cola Chile marketing director Ricardo Letelier) would stress the quality of Chilean wines.

Wines of Chile’s strategy plans, he said, included growing the market for Chilean wines to US$1bn or the equivalent.

Chadwick also said that Chile – the only country that has historically been free of phylloxera – would concentrate on becoming the world leader in organic viticulture. ‘Our organic industry is already mature. This is something we can develop strongly in the future,’ he said

Lastly he openly challenged Australia to a blind tasting of the best the country could offer. ‘I have thrown down the gauntlet. We can prove that as far as quality is concerned what Chile is offering is as good as anything Australia can produce.’

WSET director Ian Harris later said, ‘If anyone would like to take up Eduardo’s challenge, the WSET would be delighted to host the competition.’

Written by Adam Lechmere4 March 2003