Chile & Argentina Trip - Q&A

Jill Kirk from Select Wine Merchants gives iYellow the low down on her recent Chile & Argentina trip. Make sure to check out the beautiful slideshow below!

What was the reason for your recent wine journey to Chile and Argentina?

Periodically, Select Wine Merchants plans a visit to one of its wine suppliers. It is of great benefit for wine representatives not only to be knowledgeable about the taste profile of wines, but also well versed about the history, family and country of each product, and there is no better way to garner this information than through personal experience.
Concha y Toro is one of Select Wine’s first and largest wine suppliers.

Did you have any favourite experiences on your trip?

Having a midday meal in the Vina Maipo’s vineyard was a wonderful way to absorb and appreciate the surroundings. The Maipo team set up a dome in the centre of the vineyard where Select representatives were able to watch local dancing entertainment and dine on nice light fare.

On the final evening with Concha y Toro, Select’s representatives had a fabulous dining experience that was capped off with a surprise after-dinner event. We were escorted to the upper level of the restaurant where the Concha y Toro staff had converted a lounge area into a mini-casino! Each representative received "Casillero Dollars" that could be used to play. Everytime someone accumulated $100 Casillero Dollars, they would receive a cork token that could be exchanged for Casillero merchandise.

Any tips you could offer people who might want visit Chile and/or Argentina?

Chile and Argentina are great destinations to visit, but don’t bring fruit in the country. Before I left Toronto, I packed an orange in case I needed some nourishment (the flight was at 11pm and I wasn’t sure if a snack would be served during the night). As soon as I boarded the aircraft, I fell asleep and was out for the entire nine hours of the flight!

When we arrived in Chile, I discovered that there is a mandatory scan of all luggage, including carry-ons. Well, I forgot about my orange until my purse was scanned. I assumed it would just be discarded upon its discovery, but NO. Officials took my orange and said that I was going to be fined 34,000 Chilean pesos!!!! My mind raced to figure out how much that converted to in US currency fearing I would be penniless at the onset of my trip. It turned out to be a fine of $80 and a long discussion about why the orange was in there in the first place. It’s understandable why Chile would take my fruit smuggling seriously as they are a major exporter of not only wine (grapes) but other fruits, and crop contamination would be a serious threat to its agricultural industry.

Chile has never had an occurrence of
Phylloxera (a disease that affects the roots of the grape vine) and hence they are very protective of their agriculture. I explained that I didn't intend to bring any food into the country, apologized profusely and then paid the fine. Officials also asked if I wanted to see the orange destroyed! Considering that I had held up my group for twenty minutes already, I opted out of witnessing my orange’s demise. Travel Tip: DO NOT bring fruit into Chile.

What Chilean and Argentinean wines should Canadian consumers look for?

Concha y Toro has many wines in the Canadian marketplace. Frontera is Select’s entry level wine, consisting of a Chardonnay, a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot and a Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon.

Casillero Del Diablo (translated means Cellar of the Devil), is a classic line from Concha y Toro. It including several varietals in its line: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Carmenere, and soon a Malbec that my team and I were able to taste when we were in Chile. Casillero Del Diablo also has a sparkling wine arriving at the LCBO at the end of October: Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon, another Concha y Toro classic. This wine is a vintage essential and is a must-try!

The next level is the iconic Don Melchor. Named after the founder of the winery, Don Melchor de Concha y Toro, the wine has become a symbol of the best the land and the winemaker's hand can produce in Chile. La Chamiza and Trivento are vineyards we visited in Argentina. La Chamiza has a Cab/Merlot in the Lcbo general list for only $8.10!

How did you get into the wine industry?
As a result of my family’s love of the grape, I was interested in wine early on. My professional foray began as an Ontario wine representative in supermarkets. Select Wine Merchants was a natural progression.