Viñedo Chadwick is in the Alto Maipo region of Chile, near Santiago. I visited back in 2008, and there’s an extensive report here. It was originally a family home. ‘It used to be my father’s house since the 1930s,’ says Eduardo Chadwick, who established it as a vineyard as a tribute to his dad. Eduardo’s father, Alfonso Chadwick Errázuriz, was a keen polo player, and when Eduardo came to live here in 1992, most of the property was used as a polo field.
Originally, though, this estate had been much larger than it is today. ‘In Chile we had agricultural reform in the 1960s,’ explains Eduardo. The government took large privately owned properties and forced them to be split up. ‘A single owner couldn’t have more than 40 hectares,’ says Eduardo. His father was left with 25 hectares, which consisted of a house, a nice garden and a polo field. ‘When he retired, I decided to plant his polo field to a vineyard in 1992.’ So a 15 hectare vineyard was established, almost all of which was Cabernet Sauvignon. ‘We wanted to create a wine to honour him.’
The first vintage was 1999. ‘It was well received,’ reports Eduardo. ‘The vintage 2000 was the one that helped us gain international attention.’ Currently, Viñedo Chadwick is part of the holy trinity of ‘icon’ wines that Chadwick has skilfully used to gain international attention for Chilean fine wine, through a series of tastings known as the ‘Berlin tastings.’ And his joint venture (at the time) with Mondavi, Seña, was the first Chilean wine to get over 90 points from one of the leading US critics: the 1996 got 91 points. Before this, it seemed that critics were unwilling to give higher scores for Chilean wines, no matter how good they were. ‘There was a ceiling and this was very frustrating,’ says Eduardo. ‘Chile was seen as cheap and cheerful. In the UK it wasn’t much easier. We started developing Asia and it was embarrassing. After the tastings people would ask us “what is your Parker rating?” and we didn’t have one.’
The first comparative blind tasting featuring these icon wines was held in Berlin in 2004. ‘I did it in Berlin because Patrick [MgGrath, of UK agent Hatch Mansfield] didn’t want to do it blind,’ says Eduardo. The tasting eventually came to London in 2009, five years later (here is my report).
The Viñedo Chadwick vineyard is on a plateau at 700 metres elevation, with alluvial soils that really suit Cabernet Sauvignon. Frost can be a risk here (it’s controlled by overhead sprinklers), and harvest is at the end of April or early in May. As with the other top wines in the portfolio, recent years have seen a slight style change with earlier picking and more freshness in the wines. The 2014 is particularly lovely.
Viñedo Chadwick 2000 Puente Alto, Maio Valley, Chile
100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.2% alcohol. Second vintage of this wine. Lush, sweet, aromatic black fruits nose. Brooding and sweet with some tobacco and herb notes. Supple, sweet and seductive with lovely blackberry and blackcurrant fruit, and a hint of saltiness. Seductive and fine with a ripe, liqueur-like fruit profile. Has aged really nicely: regarded as a difficult vintage in Chile because it was cooler, but it has made a lovely wine. 93/100
Viñedo Chadwick 2006 Puente Alto, Maio Valley, Chile
Ripe, sweet and cedary, showing bold, spice-laden berry fruits. Quite rich, gravelly and broad, this is made in a rich style. It’s satisfying in this style, but drink up sooner rather than later. 92/100
Viñedo Chadwick 2010 Puente Alto, Maio Valley, Chile
14.5% alcohol. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 95% new oak. Intense, vivid, sweet, salty ripe blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. Has richness and intensity, but also some fresh fruity quality. A ripe, rich style with sweet black fruits, tar, spice and herbs, and a warm, salty finish. Very rich and modern, but has deliciousness. 92/100
Viñedo Chadwick 2014 Puente Alto, Maio Valley, Chile
13.5% alcohol, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Beautifully perfumed, aromatic blackcurrant and black cherry nose. Supple, expressive palate with great precision to the fruit, with a stony minerality. Has lovely precision and purity here with some grippy structure, but the tannins are really fine-grained and detailed. A serious, grown-up wine with lots of potential. Real energy, drive and purity. 94/100
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