Wool, wine and penguins

Wool, wine and penguins

Ian Marwood, Partner at Sentio Partners, samples two wines from Chile, a land of great contrasts and huge variety with many secrets for the traveller to unlock.

Is this a strange headline for an article on wine? Probably, so let me explain. Over ten years ago I advised on the management buyout from a major American tobacco group of Standard Wool, a wool trader and processor with operations around the globe.

Today I am a non-executive director of the company and one of our major processing plants is in Punta Arenas on the southern tip of Chile. We handle almost two thirds of that country’s wool clip each year and therefore have a key role in the agricultural sector supporting a large number of farmers and promoting high standards of both quality and animal welfare.

Overlooking the Magellan Straits and Tierra del Fuego, Punta Arenas is the most southerly city on the planet and acts as a gateway port for the Antarctic. However, the geographic reach of Chile is enormous with the northern region on the same latitude as Rio de Janeiro, which is why a country providing a home to vast numbers of penguins, can also produce some truly exceptional wines. Having tried a number of them my wife and I are real fans of Chilean wines, and were delighted to be asked to sample two more fine examples.

Ian Marwood 02For the white wine, the selection was Secret de Viu Manent, Viognier 2014. From the Colchagua Valley, there are seven blended varieties in the Secret range, the name referencing the ‘secret’ blend of up to 15% complementing the primary varietal. The first thing to notice is the striking label, designed by Chilean artist Catalina Abbot. Modern and colourful there will be no missing this wine on the shelf! Once out of the bottle, the wine is very light in colour, yellow with a hint of green. On the nose there is a freshness, slightly floral but with some fruit too. However, it is on tasting that you realise what a great wine this is. Plenty of fruit with some exotic twists, you notice some citrus but with a very soft edge. Smooth but fresh, there is lots to discover on the palate, viscous and with good volume. We tried this wine with pan-fried Seabass topped with a ginger, spring onion and chilli salad, and as always the Viognier worked well with the spice. However, this also seems an excellent wine for enjoying on a warm summer evening in the garden.

Ian Marwood 03Two days later it was thick ribeye steaks on the menu, and a bottle of Los Vascos Grande Reserve 2012. With Cabernet Sauvignon dominating the blend there are plenty of blackcurrant and cherry notes, but with subtle spice to make things interesting. A rich ruby red colour, this was a wine superbly suited to the delicious meat. Without any harshness, this is a smooth wine on the palate, my wife describing it as silky, and definitely one to put on the regular order list.

All in all two fantastic wines enhancing my already positive view of Chile as a wine producing region. We are already looking forward to next summer’s warm and lazy evenings and the chance to enjoy more of the Secrets from Chile.

White Wine: Secret Viognier, Viu Manent 2014 - Colchagua, Chile £8.99. Red Wine: Los Vascos Grande Reserve 2012 – Colchagua, Chile £13.99

Contact: James Goodhart, Head of Private & Corporate Sales, Bon Coeur Fine Wines Ltd
Moor Park, Moor Road, Melsonby, Richmond, North Yorkshire DL10 5PR
T: 01325 776446 W: www.bcfw.co.uk E: wine@bcfw.co.uk