Winemaker Eduardo Chadwick talks of grape varieties, biodynamics and his renowned red, Seña, with Chloe Street
hilean wines have been making waves around the world, with Seña at the head of the pack. When Eduardo Chadwick, owner of Chile’s Errázuriz estate, joined forces with Napa Valley winemaker Robert Mondavi to create Seña in the 1990s, their intention was to create the first icon of Chilean winemaking—a goal that has certainly been achieved. Seña is a world-class red that now comfortably sits alongside the premier crus and Super Tuscans, and consistently tops the critics’ scores of Chilean wines. Chadwick was recently in Hong Kong for the Great Wines of the World event—a three-day wine tasting extravaganza organised by Hong Kong Tatler and Jamessuckling.com held in the Four Seasons Hotel—and hosted an exclusive dinner showcasing Seña, which is named after the Spanish word for distinguishing mark or personal signature. What was your intention in creating Seña? I wanted to produce a premium wine akin to the top wines in Italy, the Super Tuscans. I became friends with Bob Mondavi when he visited our vineyard and we created Seña together. This was regarded as the first icon wine of Chile and was the first wine to start positioning the country at the top of the industry. Mondavi’s Opus One did it for the Napa Valley and Seña had a similar objective: to highlight to the world that Chile could produce a wine at the grand cru level.
What is the recipe for an iconic wine? You need the right terroir and you need the right winemaking philosophy. Seña is a Chilean Bordeaux blend with a backbone of cabernet sauvignon, and then cabernet franc, merlot, petit verdot and malbec, plus the uniquely Chilean carménère.
The Chinese have a taste for Bordeaux. Has this helped you? Yes. The Chinese started drinking Bordeaux wines and now they also love this Chilean Bordeaux blend. The carménère makes our wine very unique—very spicy. Chile is perfect for growing carménère because we have beautiful, long summers, so we can ripen our grapes to full maturity.
How do you promote Seña worldwide? We’ve done many blind tastings alongside the top wines of France and Italy, and often come in first. There was a famous blind tasting in Berlin where Seña and Viñedo Chadwick, another of our wines, came tops, ahead of Lafite, Margaux and Latour. The vintage was even rated 100 points by the renowned critic Robert Parker.
What was the best year for Seña? Seña 2013, the current vintage, was awarded 99 points by James Suckling. Our 2012 vintage also got 98 points, which is also very high, but it depends on personal taste.
Do you use any special techniques to make your wine? Yes. We farm using biodynamic principles. We do everything in a natural way, using only the elements in the vineyard already—no pesticides, no chemicals and no fertilisers. That has been key to giving Seña great energy. Very few properties in Chile do this because it demands a lot of care and attention.
What’s the future for Seña? We have to convince the world Chile is able to produce a wine that can compete with the best on the planet. We have convinced the critics, but now we have to reach the consumers and change their perception that a Chilean wine should cost less than £10. This will take time and is a process of education.
What’s the most memorable glass of wine you’ve had? I love Margaux. For me, Margaux 2010 is a wine I will always remember.
Should children be brought up drinking a little wine? Yes. I have four daughters and have always given them a little taste. Wine is a natural beverage and should be enjoyed in moderation.
Eduardo Chadwick with his prize-winning creation, Seña