It only took the last 10 minutes of the Annual Assembly of the International Association of Sommeliers (ASI) – held in Austria in 2007 – for Master Sommelier Héctor Vergara to convince an audience of 50 countries that Chile is an excellent country to host the most important event for the world’s wineprofessionals, the Concours du Meilleur Sommelier du Monde ASI 2010(The 2010 ASI World’s Best Sommelier Contest).
Three years after receiving this honor (only Canada and Brazil have hosted the event in the Americas), the organizing committee comprised of the International Association of Sommeliers, the Chilean Association of Sommeliersand Wines of Chile, is fully involved in preparing for the event, despite the earthquakethat hit Chile in the early hours of last 27 February, as they are certain that holding this competition will strengthen the country’s international image.
“We have received messages of support from all over the world, which encourages us to continue with this important event that we have worked so passionately on and we are certain that it will help to position Chile in international markets,” affirms Vergara alongside Ricardo Grellet, the country’s representative in the contest and distinguished as the best national sommelier in 2008.
Novelties in the competition
In addition to the competition, which will take place between 10 and 17 April, the event includes activities like tastings, visits to the country’s most important vineyardsand a visit to the La Moneda Presidential Palace.
For many, the event promises to be “the most media-oriented in the history of the ASI,” as for the first time it will be attended by a guest journalist from each participating association, in addition to the president of each country’s association of sommeliers and the respective competitor.
In addition, there will be representatives from important wine publications like Wine Spectator, Wine Magazine, Decanter and Wine Enthusiast, among others, invited by the event’s sponsor Moet & Chandon.
For Juan Somavía, general manager of Wines of Chile, holding this competition in Chile represents “a unique chance to promote Chile and our wines, whose diversity, price and quality make them a tremendously attractive option for any wine list in the world.”
For his part, Héctor Vergara highlights that this event could be fundamental to the Chilean wine and gastronomy industry. In fact, a column published in the magazine Vinos & Mas highlighted that “being chosen as host is as important to the performance of Chile’s wine business as the Olympics are for a country’s tourism sector. It means being able to take a step beyond supermarkets and specialized stores, where our wines have already achieved significant presence due to their excellent price-cost ratio.”
“Now we are going to be able to show our products to the people who make the purchasing decisions in restaurants , luxury hotels, and even airlines. This is what we urgently need, because sommeliers are the ones who decide which product gets on the list of these prestigious places, which is where the brand is really forged.”
This is not the first time that the country has hosted a world congress related to this sector. Last January Chile became the first Latin American country to organize the world’s most important gourmet event, the WACS World Congress 2010, organized by the World Association of Chefs Societies.