Regional trade organization Wines of Chile will join forces with the Guild of Sommeliers to introduce “Wine Bar War,” a competition that will challenge 20 leading sommeliers to create four pop-up Chilean wine bars in a day. On Wednesday, August 20, the sommeliers will bring the country to life through their selection of wine, creative concepts and bar designs for a chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Chile provided by LAN Airlines, part of LATAM Airlines Group. The winners will visit wineries and experience Chile’s most beautiful destinations courtesy of Turismo Chile.
Four top New York City sommeliers have been appointed as team captains by the Guild of Sommeliers, including Anna-Lisa Campos (Momofuku), Morgan Harris (previously of Jean-Gorges), Victoria James (Marea) and Chris Raftery (Corkbuzz). Each captain will select four additional sommeliers to complete their team. “This event will be a great test of the teams’ thinking not only in regards to wine list curation—which sommeliers are familiar with—but also in considering overall concept, design and guest experience,” said Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth, Chief Operating Officer of the Guild of Sommeliers. “With its larger audience attendance, the event should provide an exciting challenge and excellent showcase for these talented and passionate sommeliers.”
The program kicks off with a tasting to select wines and a meeting with renowned designer John McCormick (designer of Brooklyn’s top bars and restaurants Mason Premiere, Saint Mazie’s and Motorino) to assist in developing the bar concept. The program’s second event is a masterclass taught by Latin America’s only Master Sommelier, and consultant for LAN Airlines, Hector Vergara and Wines of Chile U.S. Ambassador, Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer. The program culminates on August 20 with the Wine Bar War competition where teams will transform a raw space into four unique wine bars pouring Chilean wines for 250 ticketed guests.
“Wine Bar War is the first event of its kind,” said Marybeth Bentwood, Executive Director of Wines of Chile USA. “We’re innovating sommelier education, creating exciting country promotional partnerships and engaging both trade and consumers. We aspire to make this an annual program that travels to different cities showcasing the creative talents of this new generation of sommeliers, inspiring category advocates and positioning Chile as the wine destination to visit for years to come.”
Trade and ticketed consumer attendees will vote for their favorite bar by evaluating the concept and visual appeal, wine selection (reflecting regions, varietal diversity and style), wine knowledge, service and the cohesive story that these elements tell about Chile. Bars can also garner votes via social media engagement.
LAN Airlines, named by the 2014 SkyTrax World Travel Awards as the “Best Airline in South America,” will invite the winning team of sommeliers to fly to Chile onboard the airline’s award winning Premium Business Class cabin and learn more about what goes into the selection of South American wines that steal the show at 35,000 feet. “It is an honor to participate in the Wine Bar War project and to help educate sommeliers and wine drinkers in New York about the variety and quality of wines that Chile offers,” said Hector Vergara, M.S., leading authority on Chilean wine, who selects the wines that are featured on the LAN Airlines Premium Business Class Wine List. “Of the 30 wines featured on the 2014 LAN Premium Business wine list, 18 are Chilean, including Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Blends, Sauvignon Blanc, Carmenere and Pinot Noir. I look forward to seeing the final wine lists created for the competition, as there is amazing breadth and depth from which to choose.” Mr. Vergara has been advising LAN Airlines, part of LATAM Airlines Group, on its wine list selection for 20 years.