5 secrets that Chile’s been keeping from us
Think of South Africa and images of Table Mountain, the Garden Route and Safari come to mind. Think of Argentina and you’re instantly transported to Buenos Aires watching tango or riding horses in the foothills of the Andes. Think of Chile and….well….what do you think of?
We asked this question on Twitter this morning and an interesting array of words came back – fruity, maturing, heritage, spaghetti (the shape of the country apparently!) and perhaps the one that summed it all up…Chilean.
Despite being an exotic and diverse country, Chile excels at playing the middle ground, and the middle ground does not a good story make. When you look at the wine category, Michael Cox from Wines of Chile, has not been shy is stating that Chile must move away from the ‘bargain-basement’ market. However, in order for Chile to change its perception in the market, it needs to stop keeping secrets from us.
Here are five secrets that we’ve found out so far:
1. Chile needs to get on the ceviche train!
Martin Morales, the owner of cool Peruvian restaurant Ceviche, is doing a fantastic job at introducing the UK to the Peruvian dish, ceviche. However, take a closer look at this dish and you’ll find that it is widely prepared and eaten throughout South America. Considering that Chile has the longest coastline in South America, there is little doubt that fish is a national dish. Omitting raw onion and using fruit like grapefruit, the Chilean version of ceviche is a personal favourite of mine. A particular meal in a super-trendy restaurant in Talca near the vineyards of Valdivieso springs to mind, with large chunks of melt-in-the mouth sea bass. Of course, a delightful Sauvignon Blanc was also in hand…something that Peru doesn’t have quite yet!
2. Coolhunter Chile
With some of the coolest climate wines in the New World, Chile needs to take hold of the recent consumer shift towards lighter, crisper wines. Real brightness of fruit and alcohol levels that won’t hit you round the face, are traits that are not hard to find in Chilean wines. What’s more, the contemporary design show – designjunction - is featuring a Chilean wine bar at their exhibition in September. Cool in two senses of the word.
3. A fantastical world
This is a country full of characters. If you take a read through some of the famous author Isabelle Allende or poet Pablo Neruda’s literary work, you will find many a bold Chilean character. With wine projects like Garage Wine Co. the characters of Chilean winemaking are the stars of the show. By promoting this character driven, individual approach to wine, Chile can move away from the generic characteristics that have been associated with the ‘bargain-basement’ approach.
4. Andes and Ocean
There is some really stunning, jaw-dropping scenery in Chile. The fact that you can ski and then swim in the ocean is not something that you can do in many places in the world at all. With reminders that Nature really is a wonder on your doorstep, it’s no wonder that the Chilean winemakers are working hard to express true terroirs in their wines. Wild ferment Sauvignons and Cabernet Franc made with old vines sit happily amongst a wine-making culture that is aiming for harmony with its environment.
I’m stealing this word from Twitter follower @JamesHubbard113 – thanks James! Like some wines, Chile is getting better with age. Santiago is developing into a city with a booming gourmet scene, energetic and vibrant theatre and a truly friendly attitude towards foreigners. With the dramatic backdrop of the Andes at every beck and turn in the city, it provides an almost romantic and film-like angle to your holiday snaps…plus it’s very difficult to get lost, well certainly, it’s easier to tell your West from your East!
So there we go. Chile stop being so secretive!
Chile is joining up with Argentina and South Africa to host The Beautiful South Tasting at London Olympia on 11th and 12th September