Following on from my recent trip to Australia and New Zealand, I then flew on to Chile and Argentina to see what the 2012 vintage was looking like in these South American countries. The flight from Auckland New Zealand to Santiago Chile, is a strange one. I got on the plane at 4:10pm, flew for ten and a half hours, and landed in Santiago at 11:30am the same day – nearly five hours before I took off! Flying backwards over the date-line really messed with my head and it took a few days in Chile to readjust my body clock.
In Chile I was there to source the 2012 vintage wines for our Tesco and Simply range of Chilean wines. I love this part of the job; working with the winemakers, tasting through the tanks and barrels and picking the best to go into our wines. I get such a feeling of enjoyment when I drink these wines back home, thinking back to the time I stood in front of a tank of wine with the winemaker and thinking “yes, this is great”. Selecting our wines is a little more involved than just picking a good wine as we are involved in the blending of the final wine. I wrote a little about blending in a previous blog. The hardest bit of blending is looking into the future and imagining how the wine is going to evolve. When we blend, the wines are young, very ‘raw’, often cloudy with dead yeast left after fermentation, can have ‘funky’ aromas or a light fizziness from the carbon dioxide produced during the fermentation. The wines may be several months from finally reaching the shelves, however we need to judge how they are going to look once the cork is pulled, a glass in poured and the wine is finally enjoyed back in the UK.
In Argentina, as well as sourcing the 2012 wines for our Tesco brand, I was also hunting around for some new and interesting wines for launch later this year. After the technicality of blending, it’s great to get into detective mode and start the hunt for something new. Every winemaker has a corner of the cellar given over to their ‘experiments’. Whether it’s with new grape varieties, grapes from new vineyards or regions, or simply changing the way they make the wine, there’s always something hidden away somewhere in the cellar. As with anyone who creates something new, the passion and excitement that comes from winemakers talking about their ‘experimental wines’ is infectious. Like a kid in a candy shop, I sniffed and sipped my way through loads of exciting wines in Argentina, and there are some crackers that we will be launching later on this year.
So, after four weeks, making my way through Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina, I finally arrived back home. Unfortunately my luggage decided that it was enjoying itself too much so went off on its own (again, second time this trip) and I wasn’t reunited with it until 4 days after I had returned home. This seems to be becoming a bit of a theme during my trips! Let’s hope it doesn’t happen on the next one.