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More Chilean wines pour into the Chinese market

By Li Yingxue | China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-02 08:12
Wine experts pair Chilean wines with dishes at the recent 90+ event, hosted by Wines of Chile. Consumption of Chilean wines in China has seen fast growth in recent years.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Despite of being called "the End of the World" for centuries, Chile has fascinated millions of tourists with its beautiful scenery and natural environment.

In addition, Chile's uniquely long and narrow topography has made it the cradle of all kinds of wines. On Oct 25, the 90+ event, hosted by Wines of Chile, took place at the Beijing Grand Millennium Hotel, providing the best bottles from 40 Chilean wineries-all of which have been awarded with 90 points or more in reputed international wine competitions.

Wines of Chile is the representative of the Chilean wine industry. It's its second consecutive year hosting the 90+ event, for which it prepared three parts to best present Chilean wines.

The event started with a 90+ symposium, where three renowned wine experts-Steven Spurrier, Fongyee Walker and Lyu Yang-offered their impressions of the modern and refined Chilean wines.

The second part was a 90+ Hall, where guests interacted with representatives, winemakers and owners of the 40 wineries during a tasting.

The highlight, however, was the 90+ Dinner, as the three wine masters paired their favorite Chilean wines from the different winemaking regions-the costa area, the Entre Cordilleras area and the Andes area-with the dishes.

Lyu was the host of the costa area at the dinner, where he paired six wines with the dishes, with one for the starter, one for the soup and four for the main course, which was baked beef tenderloin and prawn with tomato sauce and herb-roasted potato.

"Usually when we think about Chilean wines, we have the impression of passion and richness, but that's only one flavor of Chilean wines," says Lyu. "The costa area is close to Antarctica, so the water is cold. And the cold water brings the cold air to the soil, which makes the wines here more refreshing.

"It's suitable to grow some white grapes, such as pinot noir, which prefers colder air, and it's also a good place to produce chardonnay thanks to the limestone soil."

During the dinner, Lyu and the other two wine masters explained their selections, from the natural conditions to the flavors of their presented areas.

Walker represented the Andes, where vineyards take advantage of the climate to achieve a longer growing season due to the altitude and the cooling influence of the Andes. Maipo Alto is widely regarded as the premium site for growing one of Chile's best cabernet sauvignon wines.

Spurrier chose the wines from the Entre Cordilleras area, which is the first home of vines brought by the Spanish. Nowadays, the area accounts for 60 percent of Chilean wine production, and its grape varieties are mostly red.

Lyu thinks that, currently in China, the high-end and low-priced Chilean wines are more popular, but the mid-priced wines still have more potential.

Chilean ambassador to China Luis Schmidt has witnessed the growth of Chilean wines in China over the last two decades. He first visited China in 1991 and worked in China from 2010 to 2014. This year, he is back for his second tenure as his country's ambassador.

"Chile is a very long and narrow country. We have valleys, and areas near the mountains and the sea, which creates completely different types of wine," he says.

"When I first tried to bring Chilean wine and fresh fruit to China in 1991, people didn't drink much wine, but during the last four years, consumption of Chilean wines has grown by 25 percent every year," Schmidt says.

"That is the reason that, today, China is our principal market."

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