Wine column for week of 2 June 2014

For many years the world saw Chile as a source of cheap and cheerful wines. Eduardo Chadwick, president of Viña Errázuriz, has almost single-handedly changed that belief.
Earlier this year Peter Richards MW predicted that “in 10 or 20 years time, when wine aficionados around the world had finally got the message that Chile produces great fine wine, Eduardo will be recognised as the pioneer who changed their perceptions”.
Chadwick initiated blind tastings of fine Chilean wines around the world and matching them against the world’s best, starting with the famous Berlin Tasting in 2004.
Do you remember that event? Like the famous Judgement of Paris in 1976 that showed the quality of Californian wine, the Berlin tasting in 2004 also benchmarked relatively unknown wines against the world’s best.
Steven Spurrier, at the time running a fine wine store in Paris, organised the Judgement of Paris. Wines from California were tasted blind against their French equivalents, and the American wines came top. At the time this was a seismic event in the wine world and probably the first time the supremacy of French wine had been challenged. Hollywood made the 2008 movie Bottleshock about the event.
Chadwick invited Spurrier, by then consultant editor at wine Bible Decanter magazine, to host the 2004 Berlin event because of his experience at the Judgement of Paris. At the Berlin tasting against First Growth Bordeaux and the best Italian Bordeaux blends, Chilean wines came first, second and fourth out of the 16 wines judged.
Late last month Chadwick’s company marked the tenth anniversary of that 2004 event by publishing a book and organising a range of dinners. The book is called The Berlin Tasting: Uncorking the potential of Chile’s terroir.
Since 2004 Eduardo Chadwick has repeated the Berlin format in most of the world’s major wine capitals. The most recent were in mainland China (Xiamen and Shanghai). The process begins with an educational seminar on Chilean terroir in the context of other great terroir, followed by a blind tasting.
In 1995 Chadwick formed a partnership with Robert Mondavi and his family in California with the aim of creating the first Chilean icon wine. Seña was launched in January 1997. The company is converting the Seña Hillside vineyard into a biodynamic estate, and introducing new grape varieties.
Since 2011 events have also been designed — via vertical blind tastings — to test the potential of Chilean wines to age gracefully. Multiple vintages of one of Chile’s great wines, the Seña, have been tasted against multiple vintages of other iconic wines from France and Italy, including the famous First Growths of France. Again, the Chilean wine has prevailed.
Those tastings have vindicated Chadwick’s initial insight. Spurrier, chairman of the Decanter World Wine Awards, noted after the London tastings of 2012: “What Eduardo is proving now with his vertical tastings of Seña is that as his wines and similar vintages of Bordeaux age, his wines are still up there, judged equal, if not superior.”
Jeannie Cho Lee MW, who organised tastings in Asia, congratulated Chadwick for taking the risk of putting Chile’s wines into blind tastings against the world’s best Bordeaux-blends and “forging a legacy for the wines of Chile”.
In an interview in a London hotel in May Chadwick described Chile’s wine industry as “sleepy” for more than a century before providers began “tooling up” in the 1980s. “A decade later [in the 1990s] we decided on a policy of growth and expansion through exports. The main difficulty was proving the quality of Chilean wine after years of it being seen as ‘value for money’.” That was his explanation for proposing the Berlin Tasting and later events.
Chadwick has plans to expand further into Asia. In terms of the monetary value of products sold, his wines are second in the South Korean market and third in Japan and China. He plans to move into India, and has just started selling in Vietnam.
Don Maximiano Errázuriz founded the Viña Errázuriz estate in 1870 in the Aconcagua Valley. It has remained a family-run operation. Eduardo Chadwick graduated as an industrial engineer from the Catholic University of Chile and joined his father Alfonso Chadwick-Errázuriz at Viña Errázuriz in 1983 at the age of 23.
Five years later he created Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserve, the first ultra-premium wine from Viña Errázuriz. He also began experimenting with new clones and varieties such as carmenere and syrah.
Chadwick is very interested in wine education and has been a principal supporter of the Institute of Masters of Wine since 1999. In July 2005 Decanter magazine included him among the 50 most influential people in the world’s wine industry, and described Viña Errázuriz as the “quality benchmark from Chile”.
Words: 763. Find a link here.

Categories: Not home, wine

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