Wine column for week of 1 December 2014

Chadwick Wines in Chile have a long and distinguished heritage that the current president, Eduardo Chadwick, works hard to honour and preserve. His wines offer an homage to family as well as Chile’s unique terroir.

The company produces four tiers of wines: the Max Reserva range, a specialty group made from its Aconcagua Coast site, the Estate series and five icon wines. Those icon wines are mostly named for members of the family.

Eduardo’s ancestor Maximiano Errazuriz built a winery in 1870 in the Aconcagua Valley. This winery represents the origins of Errazuriz Wines. In 2010 the company built a state-of-the-art winery next to the original site. Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson featured the winery in the latest edition of their World Atlas of Wine. All its icon wines are now made there.

One of them, the Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserve, commemorates the memory of the man who built the original winery.

Alfonso Chadwick Errazuriz, Eduardo’s father, was one of Chile’s most successful entrepreneurs and businessmen. In Chile children take the surname of both mother and father. Alfonso was passionate about polo and a member of the Chilean national team. When he established a family home at Puente Alto, south-east of the capital Santiago, he built a polo field as well as planting grapes. Puente Alto, on the banks of the Maipo River in the foothills of the Andes, is one of Chile’s best regions for growing Bordeaux blend wines.

In 1992 Eduardo convinced his father to convert his beloved polo field into a vineyard. Planting started the next year. Goal posts at each end of the field remain as momentoes of the former field. The first vintage appeared in 1999.

Vinedo Chadwick, another of the company’s icon wines, is named for Alfonso Chadwick. The latest vintage of the Vinedo Chadwick is the 2011. Francisco Baettig, chief winemaker for all of Errazuriz wines, said it is aged in 77 per cent new French oak for 22 months. It offers aromas and flavours of cherries and raspberries with a touch of incense and cigar box. A taste of the 2000 Vinedo Chadwick shows the potential of these wine to age. This was the second vintage from the vines planted in 1993. It was surprisingly floral and fresh while at the same time complex, and drinking at its peak.

In 1995 Eduardo Chadwick pioneered Chile’s first international joint venture, joining forces with California’s Robert Mondavi with the aim of producing a world-class wine, Seña. The partnership ended some years later but the awards still arrive. Wine writer James Suckling gave the 2012 Seña 98 points. It’s the highest score to date for a Chilean wine in global competition.

Between 2004 and 2012 Eduardo Chadwick organised a series of blind tastings in 22 of the world’s major wine cities to match Sena and Don Maximiano against the world’s best Bordeaux blends. We have written about these events in previous columns. In summary, Chilean wines placed in the top three at these blind tastings 90 per cent of the time. Those tastings have vindicated Chadwick’s initial insight.

Steven 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.”

At a lunch at his family home in November 2014, Eduardo Chadwick declared an end to the world tasting tours. To mark the event he has published a book, The Berlin Tasting 2004-2014. “It is difficult to judge quality in wine but the various tastings [started with the Berlin tasting] have taken our message to the world.”

The Kai is another of the company’s five iconic wines and is made from carmenere. The name means “plant” in the local Indian language. “Carmenere is unique in Chile and we wanted to honour our origins with the best possible wine from this grape,” Eduardo Chadwick said. The 2012 vintage has spicy aromas of cloves and dried herbs plus red fruit flavours with touches of bitter chocolate. The tannins are soft and silky. The wine feels attractive and velvety on the palate, though still a young wine.

The final iconic wine is La Cumbre, named after the summit of the hills that surround the winery. Cumbre means “peak” in Spanish. Eduardo Chadwick and Francisco Baettig pioneered the introduction of syrah in Chile in 1993. Their first vintage was in 2001. The 2012 vintage has a beautiful nose of black fruits with spicy pepper notes and wonderfully textured mouthfeel integrated with balanced acid and wondrous length.

Baettig talked of his desire to “fine tune” his wines and obtain even more balance and elegance, noting that “fine tuning takes time”.

What’s next for Eduardo Chadwick? The response: Cool climate wines made from pinot noir and chardonnay. “I’m particularly fond of pinot noir,” Chadwick said. Errazuriz Wines export 90 per cent of what they make. The main markets are the United Kingdom and Canada. The company also has a big focus in Hong Kong, China and Japan.

Disclosure: Vina Errazuriz paid for Stephen Quinn’s airfare and accommodation while in Chile.

Words: 867. Find a link here.

Categories: Not home, wine

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