The beautifully laid tables and upbeat salsa music made for the perfect ambience for the launch of Cono Sur, Chile’s second-largest wine producer, exporter and one of its most recognized wineries, writes Suneeta Sodhi Kanga, who was present at the launch. Cono Sur’s wines are exclusively imported by Sula Selections, the import arm of Sula Vineyards. A degustation dinner was hosted to launch these wines in India at Pali Village Café, Bandra, Mumbai last November.
Rajeev Samant, Founder and CEO of Sula Vineyards pictured at the launch of Cono Sur Wines in India
The Chilean embassy seemed to be in full support of Cono Sur, as the dinner witnessed the attendance of HE Cristian Barros, Chilean Ambassador to India, as well as a number of other Chilean diplomats. Playing perfect hosts were Rajeev Samant, Founder & CEO, Sula Vineyards, and Cecilia Oldne, Sula’s Head of International Business and Chief Sommelier. Pali Village Café’s head chef created a fabulous meal; each of the four courses paired beautifully with each of the four wines from Cono Sur.
After a glass of sparkling Sula Rosé, guests were seated and the first course of a delicious smoked salmon mousse was served. The wine that paired very well with the salmon was the Bicycle Chardonnay 2010. This fresh and citrus wine is the winner of three gold medals at Mundus Vini 2010, and is priced at Rs1150. The bicycle symbolizes Cono Sur’s strong and passionate commitment to the environment when making top quality wines. Whether you’re a vineyard worker or visitor, at Cono Sur bicycles are used to get around in order to conserve energy and help control air pollution. Left: Cono Sur Bicycle Chardonnay
In fact, Cono Sur is the first winery in the world to achieve global Carbon Neutral delivery status, which means that carbon dioxide emissions from the shipping of Cono Sur wines have been measured and balanced to net zero through high quality greenhouse gas emission reduction projects. The winery has also been a pioneer of organic wine production in Chile and supports renewable energy projects.
In his short speech, Ambassador Barros mentioned that Cono Sur is one of the largest producers of Pinot Noir in the New World. We were fortunate enough to taste their Bicycle Pinot Noir 2010, which was served with a very nicely prepared seared Cambodian bassa. We were told that the chef had also used the same wine for the reduction. This light-bodied wine shows notes of cherry, raspberry and plum with subtle smoke hints. Priced at just Rs 1375, it is definitely very good value.
For our next course, we enjoyed a filet mignon with the Maipo Valley Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2010. Structured and rich, the wine is again priced very well at Rs 1825. During this course, Cecilia, who was also the sommelier for the Nobel Prize banquet in Sweden in 2007, told us a little more about Cono Sur. The name “Cono Sur” refers to the company’s geographic position; it represents wines proudly made in South America’s Southern Cone, on whose western edge lies Chile and its unique wine valleys. The logo is a freehand drawing of the silhouette of South America.
Left: Rodrigo Gallardo, Agricultural Attache with Cecilia Oldne, Head of International Business and Chief Sommelier, Sula Vineyards
The Tocornal Merlot 2010 was served with dessert, which was a ricotta and chocolate in phyllo. Both were delicious. A beautiful dark and vivid ruby red, this Merlot’s nose is full of cherries with touches of black pepper. In the mouth it is elegant and full-bodied with a long finish, and is priced at Rs 1050. As a side note, Rajeev told us that Sula, interestingly, was the first importer of Chilean wines in India. Way back in 2001, the Satori Merlot was a 100% Chilean wine. This was before their own vines were ready. Now of course the Satori is made from 100% Indian Merlot grapes.
Nestor Riveros, Trade Commissioner and Head of the Pro Chile Commercial Office, and Nicolas Caso, Commercial Assistant, graciously invited all the guests present to visit the Chilean wine tasting tour that was being held at Tote on the Turf restaurant the next day. Pro Chile, the Trade Commission of Chile, is responsible for implementing and enhancing Chile’s exports. Besides Cono Sur, about five other wineries showcased twenty-odd wines from their current portfolios. Amongst those present were Aspri (Los Boldos), Dhall Foods and Beverages (Luis Felipe Edwards), Sonarys (Montes) and Mohan Brothers Pvt Ltd (Fresita). Chile’s very own grape varietal, Carmenere, was up for tasting and thoroughly enjoyed by all.
Chilean wines in India gained market share quite early on and remain a popular choice with Indian consumers in the value for money segment.