Chile's Errazuriz looks to slake Asia's wine thirst

Tue May 25, 2010 2:20am EDT
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By Clarence Fernandez

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - A Chilean winemaker whose products tied for third place in a blind tasting of top-flight wines in Singapore expects growing Asian appetite for his wines to fuel a doubling of sales in the region within five years.

"Usually we get three wines in the top five. Here we got two in the top three, which is very good, so we are happy," said Felipe de la Jara, managing director of winery Errazuriz, after two of his wines, Vinedo Chadwick and Don Maximiano, ceded the top two spots to California's Opus One and Italy's Ornellaia from among a line-up that included French reds from Bordeaux.

"The challenge here is, looking at the palate, people are looking for something that is more ready to drink and more friendly right now, rather than in the future," he added.

As young Asians increasingly take to wine-drinking, the region holds out tremendous opportunities for growth, said De La Jara, who estimates his firm sells about 20 percent of its total current production of 1.2 million cases in Asia.

"We have a mission to double sales in 5 years, so by 2015 we should be selling nearly half-a-million cases," he added.

Jose Ignacio Saez, Errazuriz's area manager for Asia, said the estate's wines were reasonably priced and their high scores from wine guru Robert Parker were a key draw for many Asians.

"I think people will see that they are getting good quality at one-third the price and the market will go ballistic -- it will grow exponentially," he said.

While markets such as Singapore, Japan and Korea are now mature, De La Jara said, most of that growth promises to come from countries such as China, Vietnam and surprisingly, even Malaysia, despite it being a predominantly Muslim nation.   Continued...