Chile is the seventh largest wine supplier to the UK but volume sales dropped 2% in the year to July 19 (Nielsen).
Wines of Chile boss Aurelio Montes told OLN: “My idea is to create a revolution to make Chile joyful, to make Chile misbehave. I am trying to create a buzz around Chile and its food, culture and landscape. Chile is kind of boring. We are grey and impeccable. We are too proper. We are too Swiss. We need to inject some excitement.
“Chile needs to hit the UK harder.”
Montes is considering touring “secondary” UK cities – he finds London too saturated – to educate consumers about Chile’s food and wine, and he also wants to open a Wines of Chile restaurant in the UK.
“People aren’t knowledgeable about Chile,” he said. “It’s far away. And it’s got an image of value but Chile is so much more than that. Every time Chilean wine is put in blind tastings with the best you can find it does very well.”
Montes owns the eponymous wine brand and is working with new varieties to broaden the offering.
“We have Carignan, Grenache and Mourverdre,” he said. “We also have a new Cinsault, which got 90 points from Robert Parker. We are also launching our first dry farming wine from vineyards that are never watered. We have a Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, which Liberty will have for around the £13.99 price.”
Fellow suppliers agree that Chile needs to broaden its offering if it is to win over jaded UK shoppers.
Mario Pablo Silva, owner at Casa Silva, said: “We are trying to pioneer cool coastal wines from Chile. Wine with low alcohol of 11.5% has never been seen before from Chile. We are trying to push boundaries and get people tasting different styles and move away from the perception of meaty red wines.
“The UK is a difficult market because it is very competitive. Sometimes the wines imported in bulk to meet low price demands are not of a high quality so it lowers the general perception of the country. But this is also the case for other countries.”
Jonathan Stevens, regional director for Errazuriz, said: “It remains hard to persuade the gatekeepers [retailers] that Chile delivers outstanding wines over £10.”
But he said his wines are performing well in all channels and added: “In Chile there has been a lot of focus on planting the right varieties in the right site for that grape.
“This has coincided with new plantings on the coast of Chile – in cooler, more marginal and expressive sites – such as at Aconcagua Costa.
“We sense the UK consumer is giving much more consideration to the premium wines from Chile, and at the same time looking for wines with more restraint, freshness, elegance and perhaps lower alcohol levels.
“We are also seeing growing interest in Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the market.”