Founded in 1885, Undurraga has come a long way. The Chilean winery is well known for its fine wines that come with their distinct character created by a combination of tradition and state-of-the-art technology. Today, with over 130 years of wine making experience behind it and backed by top-of-the-line technology, Viña Undurraga offers wines of great quality for any occasion, with a wide portfolio covering almost all price points in the market. The winery produces 10 still wine ranges, with each offering different varieties, and 10 sparkling wine ranges. The total production fluctuates between 1.8 and 2 million cases of 9 litres a year.
Evolving and carving a niche It was at ‘Fundo Santa Ana’ in Talagante, Chile, that the first vineyards were planted by Undurraga, with select varieties of grapes from Europe, mainly from the Rhine region in Germany and Bordeaux in France. In 1903, Viña Undurraga became the first Chilean winery to export to the U.S., delivering one box of Pinot to each of the 45 States existing at that time. Later, in 1930, exports to Latin American countries, mainly Colombia and Mexico,began and by 1940 the winery produced 30,000 bottles a year. In 1960 it produced 400,000 boxes per year and part of them were exported to 60 countries. Then in 1975, the winery began its production of sparkling wines.
Undurraga owns approximately 1,800 hectares of vineyards spread over Chile’s best wine producing areas and each of these locations has been carefully selected by the viticulture teams, based on the area’s suitability for specific varieties. The unique qualities are studied using precision farming techniques. In fact, one of the key differentiating factors that goes into making the wines is the location. Explains Charlotte Fraysse, Export Manager SE ASIA, Undurraga Vineyard, ‘Undurraga searches for the best places that express
the essence of our different varieties. For our white wines, sparkling wines and Pinot Noir, our estate in the Leyda valley is our main vineyard. Its fresh climate and mineral soils give our wines their characteristic expression. For our red wines, we made a big investment in our Cauquenes Estate, in the south of Chile. The wines in this area are complex, strong, and have a personality. We also have estates in areas like Alto Maipo for our Cabernet Sauvignon. Our wines are a real expression of our country and the most important viticulture valleys of Chile.’
The wines and their production
In terms of red wines, Undurraga’s best selling variety is the Cabernet Sauvignon, though its Carménère, the Chileanicon variety, is equally popular. As for the whites, the Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay from Leyda are on top of the category. The terroirs in Leyda are highly conducive to producing quality whites and sparkling wines, according to Fraysse. Further, speaking about the future prospects of the wines, Fraysse adds, ‘Pinot Noir and Mediterranean blends are the future of Undurraga.’ Fraysse attributes the wines’ quality to a combination of tradition and innovation –the over 100 year old cellars along with the modern facilities that include the egg-shaped tanks for the premium lines (such as TH). Undurraga currently has two temperature and humidity-controlled wine making cellars with a total capacity of 23,000,000 litres. One of them is located at Quinta de Tilcoco and the other at Santa Ana Estate in Talagante, near Chile’s capital, Santiago. Both have facilities for fermenting, processing, ageing and bottling of Undurraga’s still and sparkling wines. Says Fraysse, ‘The cool antique underground cellars, which date back
to the winery’s founding days in the 19th century, provide the perfect environment for ageing our Reserva wines. Thanks to our experienced winemaking team and the modern facilities, Undurraga has developed quality wines of international renown, which are able to satisfy a wide range of tastes.’
Tapping the Indian market
Undurraga’s first shipment to India will include the ‘Santiago 1541’ varietal range, showcasing three mono-varietal wines: one cabernet sauvignon, one merlot and one chardonnay. Explaining the rationale behind introducing this range, Fraysse says, ‘In the first phase, I believe the Santiago 1541 varietal range is our best shot. Indian market is still at the beginning of its learning process, so we need wines that are straight forward, aromatic, and affordable. But we also want to offer quality; inexpensive wines don’t necessarily need to taste bad, right? Santiago 1541 varietal wines are easy to enjoy and drink, which makes them the ideal way to start discovering our wines. Also, Santiago is quite an iconic name for a wine brand coming from Chile, it’s easy to pronounce and so easy to remember. Familiarity with the brand name is an important element for consumers in markets such as India.’
In the second phase of its Indian foray, Undurraga is looking at offeringthe more complex Undurraga ranges, starting with the ‘U by Undurraga’ line, a more premium type of varietal wine, besides the iconic Altazor, which is a blend based on Cabernet Sauvignon.
Speaking about fighting competition in the Indian market, Fraysse says, ‘Chilean wines have the reputation of being good value for money. Most of the time it is true! This gives us quite an interesting competitive advantage. Indian wine consumers, because of high taxes, will try to find wines that, for entry and mid ranges, over-deliver. Of course, a substantial work on the field is to be expected if we want to stand a chance.’
Further talking about the plans to promote the wines in India, Fraysse adds, ‘I intend to visit India two to three times a year and during that time the idea is to focus on two activities: 1. Education/training 2. Tasting/prospect accounts visit. We will focus on New Delhi and Mumbai during the first year. The promotion will be mainly through on-trade distribution and through leveraging the connections of our importer, HRK Overseas. And then, depending on the first year’s results, we will adapt our promotional strategy.’ Well, looks like the wine consumers in India have some interesting choices to look forward to in the coming days.