Wines of Chile finally has a London office, a staff – and a mission to live down the taunt that Chilean wine is the Volvo of the wine world.

Newly-appointed director Michael Cox has assembled a crack team of wine professionals, including former Oddbins pr Karen Sutton and ex-Sainsburys buyer Anita Jackson. The office will be in Ascot, near Windsor, and should be open by the end of this month.

‘Wines of Chile has made a huge investment to open the London office,’ Cox, who formerly ran wine importer Negociants UK, told decanter.com. ‘We aim to create a unified approach to marketing Chilean wine to really make the British trade aware of what’s out there.’

And more than anything, Cox said on the Wines of Chile stand at the London International Wine and Spirits Fair, they have to live down Harpers editor Tim Atkin’s now-notorious ‘Volvo’ comment – that Chilean wine, like the car, is safe, reliable and rather boring.

‘We need to highlight the really exciting winemakers in Chile who are experimenting with new styles, and make Chilean wine more understandable to the British market.’

Cox, who has never been to Chile but has a trip planned next month, said they would be concentrating on the ‘holy grail’ price bracket of £5-£9, the most hotly-contested price range. They would explore ways of building brand loyalty without too much discounting, he said.

‘Discounting is a real concern. It forces people to become deal junkies but it only builds loyalty for the supermarket. As soon as one promotion is over the customer switches to another brand.’

And Cox isn’t losing any sleep over the Volvo jibe. ‘In fact, they aren’t boring at all. Statistics show that more Volvo drivers than any other are caught speeding.’

Written by Adam Lechmere22 May 2003