Asian wine market opens up to Chile as experts visit from Japan

The Chilean wine industry continues to target Asia, the world’s fastest growing wine market, with tours for Japanese sommeliers and online campaigning in China.

Wines of Chile, the promotional body representing 90 Chilean wineries with offices in Santiago and London, recently welcomed three wine experts from Japan at wineries in the central valley’s wine regions of Maipo, Colchagua, Curico and Casablanca.

The aim was to have editor of the prestigious WANDS wine magazine Kunio Bansho, and sommeliers Yusuke Nakanishi and Toshifumi Nakamoto, see firsthand Chile’s wine culture and industry and to then communicate their experiences to a Japanese audience.

Nakamoto commented on how well certain Chilean wines were matched with Japanese cuisine: “I love Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon with grilled eel and teriyaki sauce,” he told Wines of Chile.

Nakanishi agreed that Chilean wine is “food friendly,” while Bansho, who has been to Chile several times, singled out the country’s level of diversity and sheer scale as points of interest.

“Every year it changes a lot and you can find new vineyards,” he said. “From this visit I’ve learnt about the new region Malleco, and next time I want to go there! And I want to go to the north towards San Pedro. And the following year you’ll probably find new regions – there’s still a lot of space for more vineyards, especially in the coastal zones.”

Eyes East

As well as Japan, Wines of Chile has ramped up efforts to enter the rapidly growing Chinese market, with the company’s biggest ever online campaign.

“In the last decade China showed an annual average growth of 51 percent in value,” Wines of Chile Planning and Research Manager Claudia Soler said. “Regarding 2012, August figures show a growth of 30 percent in volume and 39 percent in value. Numbers are 2.1 million cases and US$75.7 million. The potential of the market is huge and is a great opportunity for the industry.”

The online campaign, known as “EEE” (Excitement, Education, Engagement) is already underway.

Wines of Chile explains: “During the Excitement phase, Chinese consumers will be introduced to Chilean wine and effectively intrigued by a stimulating and pervasive viral campaign.”

“Following this initial familiarity phase, consumers and media will receive opportunities for Education about Chile and Chilean wines and terroirs. Engagement is a natural outcome of the prior steps, capturing additional Chinese interest in and involvement with Chilean wine.”