Sunday, July 20, 2008

Joanna Simon in The Sunday Times, June 15, 2008: Chile v the best of Bordeaux and Italy

If you are an ambitious producer in the new world, one of the best ways of attracting attention is to stage a blind-tasting pitting your wines against great names from the old world. You line up your wines with some of the finest from France, and perhaps a few top Italians, and get an A-team of international tasters to rank them, not knowing what they are. You have nothing to lose. If your wines perform well in this star-studded cast, their reputation is made. If they don’t, it’s no disaster: they are a work in progress.

The late Robert Mondavi was a master of the game and coincidentally, on the day he died last month, I was at just such a tasting in Zurich, held by the Chilean Eduardo Chadwick of Errazuriz. One of the 12 wines, Seña, was a Chadwick-Mondavi Chilean joint-production. It came tenth, which might have been disappointing had it not beaten Château Haut-Brion 2005 and Sassicaia 2004. The other five Chadwick Chileans triumphed, taking places two through to six, beaten only by a legendary Côte Rôtie, Guigal’s La Mouline 2004. I put my top Chadwick wines first and equal fourth.

2005 Errazuriz Don Maximiano, £22.95
Stylish cabernet-based Chilean. My top mark in the Zurich tasting (, 0845 6033717;, 0800 0720011, £133.39 for
6 bottles).

2005 Errazuriz La Cumbre, £19.99/£15.99
Rich, chocolate and cassis-scented shiraz. Second at Zurich and a gold medal in the International Wine Challenge (Majestic; £15.99 when you buy 2 or more).

2007 Taste the Difference Chilean Sauvignon, £6.99
Vivid herby, gooseberry fruit and a whiff of smoke (Sainsbury’s).

“Until 1994 Chile’s carmenère vines were labelled merlot”
Anorak Fact: A French vine specialist was the first to see that most of Chile’s so-called merlot was the substantially different carmenère variety.