jamie goode's wine blog: Good news for Chilean winemakers

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Good news for Chilean winemakers

Michael Cox from wines of Chile has just sent through the following information, based on Nielsen data for the UK market:

  • Despite only modest growth in total wine market Chile’s sales are growing faster with increases in the past year of +7% by volume and +15% by value
  • Chile's market share is at its higher ever with 8.2% by volume and 7.9% by value (France and Australia are falling substantially)
  • Chile making strong progress in the Independent sector with growth of +25% by volume and +27% by value
  • Chile sales above £5 are at their highest ever with growth over last year of +40%. Sales over £5 now exceed 1 million cases and represent 13% of total Chile sales (last year it was 10%)
  • Chile's average bottle price is at its highest ever at £4.13
  • In a rapidly shrinking on-trade wine market Chile’s sales are up +4%, one of only 3 countries to show growth. Its share has risen to 9.5% - the highest ever

The secret of Chile's success? I think it's that the wines offer good value for money and meet customer expectations at their price points. The Chilean industry seems innovative and attentive to the demands of export markets - most of the big players seem willing to listen and also willing to all pull together for the greater good. There's a relative lack of internal politics - at least of the disruptive, problematic source. And it helps that Chile's biggest wine company, Concha y Toro, do such good work with their wines.
However, I suspect that many readers of this blog - I'm talking here about wine nuts - don't buy many Chilean wines. Chile still struggles in its fine wine dimension. Of course, you could argue, with the commercial success it enjoys, why bother with a fine wine dimension at all?



At 1:02 PM, Blogger Cleggton said...

There is wine appreciation and wine connoisseurism (or should that be cono sur ism??) I think a lot of your readers appreciate you down to earth reviews and realistic understanding that the wine world isn't all fine wine. I for one can't afford it.

What Chile offers is value for money wines in the realistic price bracket (£5 - £15) I for one have to find a special occasion for spending much more than that.

If I'm looking for good wine, at a price I can afford, often it is Chile I look to. Pound for pound they make consistently better wines than a number of other regions (make your own comparisons)

At 6:15 PM, Anonymous Ian S said...

In agreement here - they've been able to put solid, well-made moderately interesting wines onto the market, beating the competition at the £5 mark. For the punter buying at these prices, I reckon they're often a safe bet.

At 6:30 PM, Blogger Claude Vaillancourt said...

Is there fine wine in Chile? I think it is a matter of what you consider to be a fine wine and how you judge it. In my view, many Alto Maipo Cabernet Sauvignon are fine wines. But you need to judge them for what they are, without prejudices. These wines are aging very well. In fact, one of the weakness of Chile is that in general, they are not selling older vintages of their red wines. Many would be very surprised of how good are the results, and I am not talking about very expensive super premium bottles.

For the rest, Chile is aleready making world class Sauvignon Blanc. On the red side, Syrah is the next big thing, with a great diversity of styles, and from my experience, it is also aging very well.

But it is true that in general, Chile is making clean wines without these famous "terroir" aromas you can find in many "fine" european wines.

Here is a good link to learn more about Alto Maipo, Cabernet.


At 9:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of Chilean wines are very dull, though - could come from anywhere.

At 6:01 AM, Anonymous Gavin Quinney said...

I'd suggest that there's more to it than the 'fine wine' versus 'wine for drinking' debate. I guess readers want to drink interesting wines that cost from, say, £6 to £12 - not really 'fine' wines, just genuine wines that taste great, offer real value, and have a sense of place.

Looking at the numbers, Chile is just starting to make inroads here. The stated average bottle price of £4.13 is £1.98 after duty and Vat. With shipping, distribution, agency and retailer margins, the cost price per bottle is under £1. And that includes the bottle, the packaging and so on. Chile is well-placed at this price point to exploit the downturn in spending and the drive by the big players to source cheaper wines. I've enjoyed many wines from Chile that retail over £5 (or £1.50 at source), but it's frightening that these represent just 13% of sales, even if they are up from 10%.

Talking to a (British) commercial director of a Bordeaux chateau the other day, his perfectly-sound wine has been delisted by most UK supermarkets in the last year, because at a cost per bottle of €2.30 ex-cellars, or £2, the wine retails now for over £5.99 and simply doesn't sell, and the cost price is already too tight to support further promotions. Hence the delisting. (Apparently, wines over £5.99 account for only 17% of sales in supermarkets.)

My impression is that many French and European producers are giving less and less regard to the UK market, which is unhealthy - but certainly to Chile's advantage at ultra-competitive prices.

At 6:49 AM, Anonymous GlennW said...

I managed to taste a few chilean wines when I was in london recently and most were pretty good wines. Value for money and quality they are good. I've also started looking around for them more back here in SA. Have got a bottle or two at home that need to be opened soon

At 8:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also rarely spend over £15 and I almsot never buy a Chilean wine. This is because I like a wine with individuality, character, even eccentricity - let's call it terroir. Chile quite simply doesn't do it for me, but I can entirely see why it is becoming so successful in the mass market, as, if you like the big, more "international" style, the fruit quality seems normally to be higher than, say, an Oz wine at the same price point.

At 11:12 AM, Blogger DermotMW said...

I Can tell you that the finest wine I tasted in 2008 was Chilean - I visited Altair last December and tasted the four examples of Sideral (the second wine) and Altair (the Grand Vin, so to speak) and the Altair wines were stunningly good.
Chile does have origin or regional wines (I despise the term terroir as being meaningless, overused and badly used by the French who almost always use it to mean soil).
Chile's success is built upon a thoughtful industry which works cooperatively, with wines at almost all price points. At the bottom end it offers value for money as well as quality in a fruity style, at the mid-range, it offers regional variations, depth and ageability and at the top end it can offer great style and finesse. Sounds a lot like australia, doesn't it?
Dermot Nolan MW

At 8:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like well thought-out, well-marketed price pints wines at the lower end and a few trophy wines at the top to me.

It simply does not offer the interest and character I am looking for at between £10 and £20. Argentina does, at least to some extent.

At 8:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Price pOints", even...


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