Last night we were delighted to be invited to a dinner to taste the prestige Chilean wines of Errazuriz; Don Maximiano, Sena, and Vinedo Chadwick across several vintages. Present were several Masters of Wine and some of the industry’s most notable journalists. Steven Spurrier, who is played by Alan Rickman in the film Bottle Shock, was in attendance and spoke about the subject of said movie, the Judgement of Paris and its progeny, the Judgement of Berlin. The Judgment of Paris was organised by Spurrier in 1976 to pit the leading wines of California against the great wines of Bordeaux and was famous for shocking the wine world when California whitewashed the wines of Bordeaux.
In 2004 Eduardo Chadwick, Sena’s proprietor, invited 40 of Europe’s leading tasters, including Spurrier, to blind taste his prestige wines against 16 similar vintages of the First Growths and Super Tuscans. The outcome was remarkable, Sena 2000 tied for fourth place with Chateau Margaux 2001; Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2000 was third. However, Chadwick and Spurrier probably never imagined that Sena 2001 would be awarded second and Vinedo Chadwick 2000 first! The event was named the Judgment of Berlin, tipping its cap to the Judgment of Paris. Last night Spurrier closed the evening’s tasting by commenting that during the day he had been tasting Lynch Bages 2000 and Shafer Hillside Select 2000, and that neither compared to the Sena or Vinedo Chadwick.
Sena was established as a joint venture between the powerhouse Chilean wine estate Vina Errazuriz and the colossus Robert Mondavi; its inaugural vintage was in 1995. In 2005 the Chadwick family took 100% ownership of Sena; Sena is the personal project of Eduardo Chadwick, who is realising his vision of creating an iconic Chilean wine that expresses the terrior of Chile. Sena translates as personal signature, a sign of Eduardo’s commitment to embracing the local soil, aspect and climate located in the Aconcagua Valley north of Santiago. In fact Don Maximiano Errazuriz – Eduardo’s great grandfather – founded Vina Errazuriz in 1870 in the Valle de Aconcagua, 100 kms north of Santiago, in order to take advantage of the cool rains and hot dry summers that experience moist and cool Pacific Ocean breezes, ideal for growing grapes; vines that Don Maximiano had sourced from the finest clones of France.
Sena is a Bordeaux style blend, yet remains authentically Chilean assembled from the finest Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot varieties. It is Eduardo’s view that Carmenere adds a Chilean personality to the wine, we agree, the wine would be poorer for its absence. All the grapes are sourced from the Sena hillside vineyards where the vines are tended using bio-dynamic principles. The two wines embrace the paradigm of delicate handling, elegance and complexity and to this end the fruit is handpicked exclusively in the morning and painstakingly selected on sorting tables. The majority of the grapes are fermented in stainless steel tanks, yet 6% are selected and fermented in new French oak barrels. No expense is spared with Sena and the eponymously named Vinedo Chadwick is aged in 100% new French oak barrels for 22 months.
We always find it extremely exciting to taste the greatest wines of the world that are on par or, in this case, exceed the great chateaux of Bordeaux. Neil Martin states, ‘Sena is the peripatetic wine that goes around the world challenging and, let it be said, often defeating First Growths in blind tastings.’ We found the Sena 2010 beautifully structured with a nose of smoke, cassis, blackberry, caramel and a hint of mint with noticeably fresh acidity. The 2000 Chadwick was extraordinarily vibrant for its age with astounding density and concentration of fruit. The Vinedo Chadwick is built to last and will improve for the next 20 years. After tasting the range last night we can certainly see why Chadwick’s prestige wines, Sena and Vinedo Chadwick stand toe to toe with the world’s best Bordeaux blends and we highly recommend them.
Errazuriz Sena 2010 6×75 – £345 IB or £428.76 including duty and VAT
Neal Martin, Wine Advocate, 94 points
The 2010 Sena is more generous on the nose than the 2009, with crisp, ripe blackberry, boysenberry and graphite notes that are tightly coiled and, at the moment, not as expressive as the 2009. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins. This is silky smooth in the mouth, harmonious and the oak is deftly interwoven into the structure. This is a sophisticated Sena. Drink 2014-2022.
Errazuriz Vinedo Chadwick 2008 6×75 – £460 IB or £566.76 including duty and VAT
Jay Miller, Wine Advocate, 96 points
The 2008 Vinedo Chadwick is made up of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Merlot. It offers up a sexy perfume of exotic spices, sandalwood, incense, rose petal, black currant, and blackberry. This sets the stage for a structured, concentrated, impeccably balanced wine that deftly combines elegance and power. It mandates 5-6 years of additional cellaring and will deliver prime drinking from 2016 to 2028+.
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