Aficionados caught fascinating glimpses of Chile, as they sipped on the country's best wines at a recent tasting session

Dramatic geography makes for dramatic wine. And when it comes to sweeping landscapes, Chile has an edge. Long and narrow, its climate is influenced by the Andes in the east and the Pacific Ocean in the west. Then there's the searing Atacama Desert in the north, and the Patagonian ice fields in the south. And between is all: the vineyards — strong, sturdy and determined, producing wine since the 16th Century.

Not surprisingly, the recent Chilean Wine evening, organised by the Taj Coromandel, in association with the Honorary Consul for Chile, stressed as much on geography as it did on variety.

Peek at the past

For those of you who are more familiar with French and Italian wine, here's a quick history lesson. When the Spanish colonised the region in the 16th Century, they also planted vineyards. French varietals were introduced in the mid-18th Century. Today, Chile is the 8th largest producer and 5th largest exporter of wine in the world.

Sunita Shahaney, Honorary Consul for Chile, opened with a welcome, before calling the Ambassador of Chile, Cristian Barros, to the stage. Against a backdrop pronouncing Chile as ‘a food powerhouse for the 21st Century,' Barros spoke of how he hopes India will soon start pairing its food with Chilean wine.

Reva Singh, Publisher & Editor, Sommelier India, introduced the wines explaining their strong points: “The wines are fruit-forward, good as an aperitif and value for money…” She added that they're easy wines for beginners, and that their quality is improving as the industry grows.

Nestor Riveros, Minister Counsellor Commercial, Embassy of Chile, thanked the Indian people and the media for the support given to the Chilean miners in the recent mine collapse and rescue, besides talking of how much Chilean wine has grown. N. Prakash, General Manager, Taj Coromandel, and Arjun Nair, president, Terroir, also spoke.

Fruity flavour

Glasses of crisp Anakena Rose Cabernet Sauvignon Rose (vintage 2009) opened the meal by Chef Alok Anand. They were served with a deliciously succulent smoked salmon drizzled with a sweet-tangy raisin-mustard emulsion. The smooth fruity wine had just enough structure to stand up to the fish without overwhelming it. A chardonnay — Vina Tarapaca — followed. Made with grapes from the Leyda Valley, just 7 km from the cool Pacific Ocean, this wine is flinty with long lingering flavours that worked well with the next course, seared Dory with fennel confit and a light champagne buerre blanc.

The main course, Angus steak was served with the Luis Felipe Edwards, a well-balanced Carmenere bouncing with juicy berry fruit and a spicy edge. Chile is currently the only country where the Carmenere is being cultivated. The grape was re-discovered by a French Enologist who was visiting Chile. Supposedly extinct for 150 years, it was thriving in Chile, but being mistaken for merlot!

An elegant Castilli De Molina Pinot ended the meal, teamed with raspberry and blackcurrant bavarois.

Keywords: wineChile