Issue: 13 / Sunday 18 February, 2018
Lunch & Tasting
with Viña Errázuriz
Written by Magdalena Sienkiewicz
I had the pleasure of attending a tasting and lunch hosted by Francisco Baettig, Chief Winemaker for the Errázuriz group, which incorporates three flagship Chilean wineries - Viña Errázuriz, Séna and Viñedo Chadwick, all three receiving the highest scores and accolades by the world’s leading critics. Francisco was the man that produced Chile’s first perfect score of 100 Points (for their 2014 Viñedo Chadwick) which was a great success and more importantly, not a one-off. Francisco and his team have produced a string of huge scores and awards (97 to 100 point now being the norm) across the following varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux blend, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which is the true mark of excellence.
The tasting took place in London’s prestigious private club, 67 Pall Mall, recently re-opened after expansion at its Sir Edwin Lutyens’ building. Shortly after being greeted by the staff with a glass of delicious Champagne, I was shown to the cellar known as St James’s room, which is not your usual cellar room – it seems as if it is filled with natural daylight, but in fact it is a rather swanky lighting system installed across the whole ceiling which makes the room bright and airy. It adds to the contemporary décor and with its own discrete entrance from Pall Mall, St James’s room offers a good sense of privacy.
I was thrilled to listen to Francisco’s passion, drive and energy. He has a clear vision a strong sense of purpose and is led only by his own beliefs rather than being guided by the corporate powerhouse that Errázuriz has become. In short, he wants to make some of the world’s finest wines. Francisco does not preach but is clearly on a journey as he wishes to change the common perception of South American wines from being unbalanced, not age worthy and simply over-blown. Francisco wants the world to see and believe that Chile is capable of so much more, which is similar to Carlo and Dante Mondavi’s philosophy as explained in Stu’s previous article ‘Dining with the Mondavi’s’.
The great thing about Francisco’s passion is that it radiates from every glass of his wine he pours – his sheer enthusiasm for the entire range does not waver (and the collection is vast). The fact that the first wine poured during the tasting was the 2015 Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Chardonnay proves exactly that point. Some may consider their Aconcagua Costa range is perhaps entry-level however, Francisco baulked at such a notice and took offence.
He begun to explain the Estate’s unique site at this stage - it is the proximity to the cool Pacific Ocean and its well-drained soils, with high level of slate
and metamorphic rock, which allow Errazuriz to produce wines of exceptional complexity, depth, minerality, and natural acidity. It made perfect sense.
The tasting was focused on the flagship 2015’s and we tucked straight into Viñedo Chadwick, which I can describe as a wine of great power and elegance. Pure Cabernet Sauvignon, it possesses an exuberant nose with classic ripe blackcurrant. Stunning depth of flavor emerges on the palate. Tannins are grippy, energetic and yet refined, keeping everything intact to a finish that goes on forever.
Seña a Bordeaux-esque blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Carmenere, 12% Malbec, 7% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc was served next. There is an extraordinary energy to this wine. Immense density of flavours which keep emerging with each minute. Both wines have a great aging potential as there is plenty of lush primary fruit, which together with a good tannin structure will develop these wines for years to come.
Lunch served by the team at 67 Pall Mall was excellent and everyone was given a choice of Francisco’s wines to enjoy together with a well thought out menu. I was pleased to see, that I wasn’t the only person in the room asking for another smidge of ALL wines. We started with dill cured salmon gravlax perfectly matched with Francisco’s Chardonnay. Beautiful mineral notes and hints of citrus cut through the oiliness of the cured salmon. I was delighted to see beef wellington starring as the main course, which was cooked to perfection. Medium rare beef, intense mushroom duxelle all encased in a crisp pastry (thankfully, no soggy bottom). Wow, what a sauce – thick and mouth coating rich which worked a treat with Francisco’s flagship Seña and Viñedo Chadwick.
Just before the dessert was served, I had a lovely chat with Francisco. Of course, we exchanged quick thoughts on the wines – Francisco was a little nervous as the wines had only recently arrived from Chile (some wines do not travel well!) however, every bottle showed incredibly well. One of the questions I wanted to ask Francisco was about his own thoughts on the stunning ‘Las Pizarras’ range, which tops my personal list of outstanding Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. He smiled and begun to explain how these wines are a true labour of love shared amongst the whole team. Understanding and expressing the natural beauty of the fruit, mountainous site and oceanic climate is what makes both Las Pizarras wines utterly unique.
A generous cheese board concluded what was one of the most enjoyable mid-week tastings I have attended for a very long time. It’s a tough job…
Albeit, not party to the main thrust of my article, we recently sampled the full selection of our South American wines which re-confirmed how wonderful and very often, under appreciated they really are. Many stand shoulder to shoulder with the ‘top’ wines coming out of the US or France. Our ‘top’ recommendations are...
Robert Parker’s ‘Extraordinary Winery’ Awards
Pinot Noir 2015
99 Points – James Suckling
Even better than the debut and great 2014. Perfumed and vivid with strawberry, raspberry, flower leaf, cedar, stone and flint. Full body yet compacted and compressed giving it an ultra-fine palate profile. Tension and finesse. Light citrus finish. Polished to almost perfection. Seamless finish. 500 cases made. Drink now.
£76.45 per bottle
Or £312.00 per case (6x75cl) In Bond
Pinot Noir 2014
98 Points - James Suckling
Fabulous aromas of slate, rust, iron, and dried strawberries. Full body, firm tannins, wonderfully polished. Fine and caressing. Complex flavors too. A wonderful finish. Dusty texture as well. This is a small production wine from the family’s best vineyards of the Manzanar farm with pure slate soils. Full Burgundy treatment. 50% whole cluster pressing. Aged in 50% new oak. Louis Michel Liger-Belair of Burgundy consulted on this wine.
£65.00 per bottle
Las Pizarras Chardonnay 2015
98 Points - James Suckling
The structure and length of this white highlights its greatness. Full body, yet tight and structured with a superb linear backbone of ripe fruit and fine phenolic tension. Cream, stone, flint and apple. All about refined texture.Las Pizarras Pinot Noir 2015
£51.25 per bottle
Arrives in the UK in March/April 2018
100 Points - James Suckling
Stunning aromas of blackcurrant, stone, blueberry and licorice. Also iodine. Floral. Perfumed. Full body, fantastic density of fruit and ripe tannins. It goes on for minutes on the palate with such energy and focus. Touch of chewiness on the finish. A complex and complete wine that delivers a generosity with firmness. Drink in 2021 but
already a classic to drink.
£490.00 In Bond per case (6x75cl)
£603.55 Duty Paid per case (6x75cl)
Contact us directly to enquire about the availability & large formats for 2015 Sena and Viñedo Chadwck.
From our library -
Vina Errazuriz Seña 2013 Double Magnum
99 Points - James Suckling
Superb aromas of black currants, rose petal and mint. Lavender and stones too. Full body with incredible fruit density. Complex, yet it's agile and bright. Tannins are perfectly polished. It builds on the palate and shows the structure of a first growth Bordeaux but remains so Chilean. A blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Carménère, 12% Malbec, 10% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot. From biodynamically grown grapes. Even better than the amazing 2012.
93 Points - James Suckling
I like the blackberry, black chocolate and dried meat character on the nose and palate. Flower too. Full body, agile and intense with spice and fresh fruit aftertaste. Very lively and beautiful.
92 Points - James Suckling
Linear and focused white with sliced pear and apple character. Medium to full body, honey, mineral and salty undertones. Steely and austere. Serious for the price. Fermented and aged in used barrels. Drink now.
Star Buy - Montes Purple Angel Colchagua 2014
98 Points - James Suckling
This has a perfect nose of blackberry, tar, black pepper, thyme, cloves and rose petal. Full body and firm and very silky and polished tannins. The finish goes on for minutes. Best ever. Great class. 92% carmenere and 8% petit verdot. Drink in 2019 but so gorgeous now.
Star Buy - Vina Cobos Felino Malbec 2016
92 points – James Suckling
This is focused and refined with a beautiful precision and finesse. Medium body, fine tannins, and fresh wine. Very beautiful finish. Drink now.
We are huge supporters of all of Dennis Durantou wines from his famous Pomerol property, L’Eglise Clinet to, and what I would describe as four stunningly good right banks, which all deliver far above their respective price tags. Each En-Primeur campaign we purchase four, full pallets of Châteaux Les Cruzelles, Montlandrie, La Chenade and Saintayme. Currently, these wines are not favoured by many Vinorium customers, which and to put simply, you are missing out some delicious, incredibly priced Bordeaux produced by a genius.
Last week marked the annual Southwold Group tasting, which the excellent Bordeaux specialist Farr Vintners hosted. Amongst the group sat three respected critics including Neal Martin, Jancis Robinson MW and the great Steven Spurrier. 2014 Bordeaux was the vintage sampled and I believe circa 250 wines were judged over the course of two days
I have not sampled many ‘14’s since the En-Primeur campaign, which and combined with the ‘Southwold’ tasting got me thinking – It’s about time... I opened a bottle of Châteaux Les Cruzelles, Montlandrie, La Chenade and Saintayme as I was curious to see how they compare and more importantly differentiate from one another. I was also eager to understand why the Southwold Group were so openly enthusiastic with La Chenade. For value, the wine is nothing short of outstanding (as is the entire stable) and becomes my ‘Wine of the Week’ however, and despite my opening paragraph, we are close to selling out (There’s a little stock left, some cases under bond and our 2015’s will be arriving by the end of March if you wish to jump the queue).
The ’14 Les Cruzelles is sensational too...
“Tua Rita is one of Tuscany’s leading properties… Simply put, the wines are not to be missed!”
Make no mistake, Redigaffi stands shoulder to shoulder with Tenuto dell’Ornellaia’s Masseto & Ornellaia and Tenuta San Guido’s Sassicaia
When Rita Tua and her husband bought property in southern Tuscany in 1984, they were not ambitious, they simply wanted to work the land in a natural way. What happened was that their honesty and meticulousness would maintain the perfect terroir for grapes - particularly Merlot. Tua Rita Redigaffi became a legend when Robert Parker awarded it his first 100 point score in 2000, and Tua Rita’s portfolio has since maintained a rivalry to the first wave of Super Tuscans from a little further north
Available week beginning 26th February 2018
£175.95 per bottle
100 Points James Suckling “This is an extraordinary merlot with such purity and focus. Flowers such as violets and hints of orange peel. It is full-bodied yet incredibly energetic and structured. The finish goes on for minutes. Seamless texture. Fresh yet dense. Contrasty. Best Redigaffi ever. Hard not to drink now but a wine for decades”
97 Points Monica Larner, eRobertParker.com “No surprise, Tua Rita delivers yet another unbelievable edition of its legendary Merlot from Coastal Tuscany. The 2015 Redigaffi is a blockbuster, a beautiful and expressive blockbuster at that. This vintage delivers a unique level of intensity and power that is very much linked to the easily ripened fruit obtained in this warm and sunny vintage. Despite that inner bulk and power, the wine reveals an elegant sense of harmony and depth. Etched mineral or graphite notes segue to black fruit, spice, leather, mocha and toasted espresso bean. The wine is structured and firm in terms of mouthfeel”
Tua Rita Perlato del Bosco Rosso 2015
Available week beginning 26th February 2018
£21.00 per bottle
93 Points James Suckling “Plenty of plum berry and chocolate character with some spice. Medium to full body, chewy tannins yet polished and extremely fine. I love the palate to this. Sangiovese. Drink now or hold. Made from organic grapes.”
92 Points Monica Larner, eRobertParker.com “The mid-weight 2015 Perlato del Bosco is a pure expression of Sangiovese that boasts the warmth and sunshine of Coastal Tuscany. The wine offers thick layers of fruit and spice that you would get, say, with Sangiovese from cooler inland areas with vineyards planted at higher altitudes over sea level. Bright cherry and wild raspberry transition to toasted almond,
licorice and grilled herb”
Tua Rita Giusto Di Notri 2015
96-97 James Suckling “This is dense and structured with beautifully polished tannins and plenty of currant and blackberry character. Full body and chewy tannins yet refined and juicy. Lots of Mediterranean herbs with the dark fruit. Blend of mostly cabernet sauvignon with merlot and cabernet franc. Pretty barrel sample. This is coming along very nicely. Can't wait to taste in bottle. Made from organic grapes”