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Silva challenges Chilean wineries to focus on premiumisation

Published:  11 January, 2016

To thrive in the export market, Chile's winemakers must focus on premium wines, Wines of Chile's president, Mario Pablo Silva, has said.

Silva, who is also managing director of the family-owned Viña Casa Silva, has identified sustainable viticulture and a focus on the indigenous Carmenère varietal as key to the country's future success.

Silva said: "With close to 900 million litres of wine imported each year, the United Kingdom is one of the world's largest and most competitive wine markets.

"In order to establish our brand and validate the quality of our portfolio, we must offer our finest wines.

"Competitive price wars and excessive mass production have threatened the potential of the Chilean wine industry and, in order to rival the best wine-producing countries in the world, Chile has to identify its strengths, redefine the category and ensure we are only producing wines of quality.

"In particular, Chile should be championing Carmenère over Cabernet Sauvignon, which currently has the biggest volume production."

Chile is the fourth largest volume exporter of wine in the world - after France, Italy and Spain - and the largest New World exporter of wine.

Some 23% of Chile's wine exports come to the UK, but they represent only 17% by value.

Wines of Chile aims to make Chile the leading producer of premium wines from the New World by 2020.

Silva has been working with the Chilean government to position wine at the heart of Chile's global image, but believes wine makers and the tourism sector could both do more to articulate the quality and diversity of the country's viniculture.

Viña Casa Silva has itself been working with a range of leading academic institutions around the world to explore Chile's terroirs and identify new locations suitable for premium wine production.