Chile has awarded Michael Cox the highest honor it can give to a foreigner, but the European director of Wines of Chile says he is not planning to sit back and enjoy the global success of Chile’s wines.
The organization, representing 85 Chilean wineries, will build on its achievements, Cox says, with ramped-up education campaigns in Scandinavian markets such as Finland, Sweden and Denmark, about the quality and image of Chilean wines and by putting “greater focus” on independent wine merchants in the UK.
Growing numbers of Chilean wine bottles are already flying off of shelves in the UK, one of the world’s most competitive markets.
Chile’s share in the UK wine market is at 9.4% by volume and 8.7% by value, according to the Nielsen Data from July 2010.
Meanwhile sales of Chilean wines that cost above £5 has increased over the past two years by 57% and the on-trade market share is at 10.5%.
“Chile already had an image for reliability and value for money, but we needed to expand the awareness of how rapidly the Chilean wine trade was evolving and maturing – making an increasing range of modern, more complex wines,” Cox said in an email.
“We have focused on regionality, with special reference to the newer, cooler, coastal vineyard areas, as well as the developments in more mature regions.”
The Wines of Chile team is also developing a campaign for the UK to highlight how a glass of Carmenére wine, Chile’s signature varietal, is perfect with spicy foods, especially curry, says Cox.
Cox was made a Commander of the Order of Merit of Chile at a reception at Vintners’ Hall in London for Chilean President Sebastian Piñera to commemorate Chile’s Bicentenary, which passed on Sept 18.
The reward was presented by Tomás Muller, Chile’s ambassador to Great Britain and in the presence of President Piñera, who has been in Europe meeting with the leaders of the United Kingdom, France and Germany.
“I am immensely proud to receive the award and especially from President Piñera,” says Cox who has worked for 40 years in the wine trade and with Wines of Chile since 2003. “It is a very important reward to a lot of hard work by the Wines of Chile team, both in the UK and Chile, and also reflects the support of the wineries.”
Paying tribute to the export success of Chile’s wines, President Piñera recalled how the 33 miners who were rescued from 700 meters below the Atacama Desert had toasted Chile’s bicentenary on Sept. 18 with a glass of Chilean wine.
“The world was impressed with how Chile coped with the earthquake,” Cox says. “But the events at the San José mine have captured the world’s imagination and it has been very positive for Chile’s image – this is already benefitting wine sales.”