What makes it a wine legend?
Wine Legend: Viñedo Chadwick 2000, Alto Maipo, Chile
Bottles produced 6,000
Composition 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Release price £30
Price today None available, but estimated at £350
A legend because…
Although the Chadwick vineyard close to the Maipo River was only planted in 1992, the wine was an immediate success from its first vintage (1999) onwards. In 2004, Eduardo Chadwick, the sixth generation of his family to run Viña Errazuriz, staged a blind tasting in Berlin of 16 Bordeaux and Bordeaux-style wines, including 2000 vintage Château Lafite and other top-scoring first growths – but it was this wine that received the highest average score. Since then Viñedo Chadwick’s reputation has been assured.
Eduardo Chadwick wanted to honour his father Alfonso with a top-quality wine originating on the family’s home estate in Alto Maipo. The vines for Viñedo Chadwick were planted on Alfonso’s former polo ground, where he had trained daily to become Chile’s champion at the sport.
After a wet winter, the spring was cool and the summer months delivered moderate temperatures. More cool weather in the autumn slowed ripening, resulting in a late harvest of balanced grapes with intense flavours. Green-harvesting ensured yields were reduced to a level that maintained fruit concentration and maturity.
The 15ha vineyard was planted at a height of 650m in Puento Alto in the Alto Maipo valley, right next to one of the blocks used to produce another of Chile’s outstanding red wines, Almaviva. The soil is largely gravel, with a top layer of clay and loam over a stony subsoil that ensures excellent drainage. The vines are planted to a density of 4,160 vines/ha. Nights are cool, and morning breezes drift down the slopes of the Andes, moderating the daytime heat.
Vinification varies from parcel to parcel, but there is a clear nod to top-tier Bordeaux. The grapes are lightly crushed then destemmed. Maceration can take up to 25 days, with the frequency and duration of pumpovers adapted to the character of each lot, and the wine is aged for 17 months in new barriques with regular racking. The final blend is assembled towards the end of the ageing process, with no fining but a light filtration before bottling.
Stephen Brook appraised the wine soon after bottling: ‘Rich, smoky, leathery nose. Very rich, plump and concentrated, opulent and spicy, a complex if somewhat broad wine, with good acidity and length.’
In 2015, Jeannie Cho Lee MW wrote: ‘A beautiful expression of Cabernet fruit – layers of cassis, cedar and tobacco with supple tannins… tightly knit and a bit reserved but opens up with time in the glass.’
Steven Spurrier, long a fan of this wine, recorded in 2016: ‘Still a wonderful nose with hints of rose petal and seductively aromatic. Extraordinary warmth and depth from just eight-year-old vines, almost “southern” richness with the spice but the firmness of Cabernet quite evident.’