Have you ever wondered what the routine of a sommelier is like? What are your daily duties and tasks beyond looking for food and drink pairings? We talked with the Head Sommelier of Viña Concha y Toro, who tells us in first person all the details of his exciting and essential work.
“I work physically in the Pirque Casona, I go every day unless I must cover another activity in Santiago. There we have commercial visits almost every day and my main job is to serve them, show them our wines and see all the coordination of these activities. The visits can be from customers to sales or marketing executives from our offices abroad, foreign buyers, distributors, training for new members or journalists. Every year the most important journalists in the world come.
I have had to attend, along with the winemakers, James Suckling, Tim Atkin and Patricio Tapia. We are with them in the tastings and it is interesting to see what they think of our wines, to have their feedback.
But this is not the only thing I do. My work is quite varied, which makes it entertaining, although sometimes it can be very demanding. I also see administrative and logistical matters of all the activities that we do here in the house. In addition to seeing all the wine pairing for our events, special dates, articles that we publish in magazines, wine launches or dinners with very important clients. In this case, we are defining all the details of what lunches and dinners are, studying beforehand the food and wine pairings and we see that together with the caterers or the restaurant where we will hold the event. I go there with another marketing correspondent, and we try all the food options along with the wines and then a menu is defined. The number of wines you taste will depend on the type of menu we have. If they are technical tastings, I can taste up to 50 or 100 wines in one day. Sometimes when I’m tasting with winemakers or clients, we can show them between 40 to 50 wines in one day.
Of the wines that I highlight, I love Amelia Chardonnay. Especially with fish. It can be a Golden Conger or Austral Hake baked or panfried. Tuna and Salmon go very well too.
I also like Terrunyo Carmenere, I would say it goes well with a classic Empanada de Pino or Pastel de Choclo from the local recipes, or with Risotto ai Funghi and Spaguetti alla Carbonara. Another wine that I love is Terrunyo Sauvignon Blanc paired with Fresh oysters or a Classic Ceviche.
Also, I like the company’s great cabernets like Don Melchor or Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon. I see both wines well with fatty meats cuts a roast Rib Eye steaks, Lamb, Game Meats or Entrecote, tasty cuts.
Other times I have to present our wines at external events that take place in Chile or other countries, such as wine fairs. Now I have just returned from the ProWein fair, where I go every year. I have also been to Vinexpo Bordeaux several times. I have made other trips to the United States for a marketing campaign that I was leading and there were mainly meetings with sales teams, distributors, sometimes supermarkets, with journalists or the television.
And well, they are work trips, short trips, well organized with the distributors where we go, they do training and work on it.
But what I like the most is getting involved in the winemaking process. Going to the winery often and closely seeing all the stages of vinification and storage of the wines because that helps me to see and understand better our final wine. So, I love it when one of our winemakers invites me to participate in technical tastings at the different stages of winemaking: the harvest, fermentation, vinification up to the final blending stage of the wine. When I can, I go with Enrique Tirado or Marcelo Papa. In fact, Enrique Tirado has his office here in the Pirque Casona, he comes almost every day and tastes wines here in the Pirque Casona itself. And with Marcelo Papa, who works at the Puente Alto cellar, if he invites me we will taste wines. Lately, for example, I have been with him in the mixture of Amelia 2021 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. With two other winemakers, the four of us were defining the final blend of the wines. And yes, of course I also give my point of view. It is important that we be more people because each one has their vision, they like it and sometimes it is considered, and sometimes it is not. The final word always has Marcelo. But it is very interesting, I think I have contributed, and I like to participate in it.”