Saturday, 22 September 2012

The Wines of Errazuriz

Executive Winemaker Francisco Baettig
The people of Viña Errazuriz have an impressive list of credentials. Its founder, Don Maximiano Errazuriz, was an accomplished businessman and diplomat in addition to being a winemaker. His descendant, Eduardo Chadwick has been guiding the winery since 1983 and was responsible for introducing Syrah to Chile in the 1990s, while Executive Winemaker Francisco Baettig was voted 2011 Winemaker of the Year by the Chilean Circle of Food and Wine Writers. 

I caught up with Francisco as he passed through Singapore earlier this month. He was calm and focused despite the airline having lost his luggage on the trip from Chile. With the foresight of a well-seasoned traveller, he had kept what he needed close to him and was well prepared for the trade tasting organised by Beam Global Asia. 

Errazuriz is recognised as a top quality producer based in the middle of the Aconcagua region. Nestled in a valley between a low coastal range and the Andes mountains, the climate is Mediterranean, with warm summers moderated by cooling breezes from the Pacific Ocean. The wines are divided into four categories; Icons, Max Reserva, Specialties and Estate.  In the 1990s Eduardo and Robert Mondavi from California embarked on a series of joint ventures, these were then acquired by Errazuriz when Constellation Brands bought the Robert Mondavi Winery. Of these joint ventures, the most significant is Seña, billed as Chile’s first “icon” wine.

With the goal of establishing Chilean wine as capable of going toe to toe with the world’s best, in January 2004 Eduardo organised a blind tasting pitting Errazuriz Cabernets against those from Italy and France. In what has come to be known as the “Berlin Tasting” (after the city in which the tasting was held), the 2000 Viñedo Chadwick and 2001 Seña came in first and second respectively, beating wines such as Château Lafite and Sassicaia. These tastings have since been held regularly (in different countries) to demonstrate the quality of Chilean wine to a worldwide audience. 

Asked what he thinks is the most significant development in Chilean wine today, Francisco replies that there has been great improvement in cool climate winemaking, especially with Chardonnay in the coastal areas. While Cabernet Sauvignon still dominates plantings, wines made from varietals such as Viognier and Carignan are becoming increasingly visible. “It’s very diverse now, very interesting,” says Francisco. 

Tasting notes:

Errazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2011 – Pale lemon with a youthful nose of gooseberry, nettle and passionfruit. Very fresh and vibrant on the palate, with lychee and gooseberry notes. 

Errazuriz Chardonnay Wild Ferment 2010 – Fermented using native yeasts to add complexity to the wine. Medium lemon appearance, toasty and nutty notes on the nose with green apple. Well integrated oak lending a subtle buttery note to the wine. Medium+ length.

Errazuriz Carmenere Single Vineyard 2008 – Deep ruby.  Takes a little time to open, but then exhibits intense mocha and dark chocolate notes. Very soft and ripe tannins, slightly stalky with notes of plum and spice. 

Errazuriz La Cumbre Shiraz 2006 – Part of the Icons range, the fruit for this wine was sourced from three vineyards in the Aconcagua Valley. Deep ruby robe. Youthful nose of rich, ripe fruit, with an aromatic lift that I would guess comes from the 3% Petit Verdot blended into this wine. Very plush tannins, with ripe forest fruits and great concentration. Well defined and structured. 

Errazuriz Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserve 2006
– Bordeaux blend. Errazuriz’s flagship wine, named after its founder. Deep ruby with a garnet edge. Developing aromas of dark chocolate, blackcurrant and plum. Ripe tannins, approachable and harmonic, an intense palate with a long, flavourful finish.  

Errazuriz Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserve 2007 – Developing slower than the 2006. Still quite impenetrable, with firm tannins and black fruit overlayed with fresh acidity. 

Errazuriz Viñedo Chadwick 2007 – 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The Viñedo Chadwick vineyards are located in the Maipo Valley, known for its high quality reds. This wine exhibited black fruits and cigar box aromas, with a generous palate of cassis, cedar and spice. Lush tannins, with medium acidity and a persistent finish. 

Errazuriz is distributed in Singapore by Beam Global Asia.

No comments:

Post a Comment