Errazuriz Wines: Chile’s Cool Climate Grapes Shine

Errazuriz tasting7This is the first in a series of team tastings by top reviewers in our community, most of whom are graduates of either the Algonquin College Sommelier Program or La Cite Collegiale Sommelier Program.

They share with us their overall impressions from the tasting, as well as reviews of each of the wines presented. You’ll also find their reviews shared on Twitter and Facebook as they are all very active on social media.

“The Errazuriz wine tasting at Daly’s restaurant in Ottawa on September 26th was an absolute treat. Francisco Baettig, head winemaker at Errazuriz, is a supremely knowledgeable and personable speaker.

I enjoyed listening to Francisco speaking about the emphasis his house puts on geography and climErrarzurizate. With Chile has mostly a warm Mediterranean climate, Francisco spoke about the winery’s expansion of vineyards that stretches further west to within 12 kilometers of the tempered Pacific coast.

This enables Errazuriz to produce elegant ‘cool-climate’ grapes, such as their Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, in addition to their portfolio of warm-climate grapes like Carmenère, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Francisco also puts emphasis on what he calls the ‘well-equilibrated’ vintages like 2010, meaning they are welcomed as a bit cooler of a vintage to balance out their production needs. All in all this was a fantastic tasting experience!”  – Tom Vigeanterrazuriz1“We enjoyed a very polished and well-organized tasting from Chilean house Errazuriz yesterday. Francisco Baettig, head winemaker, is extremely informative and educational. Sitting at the southwest corner of Daly’s restaurJane Staplesant, we enjoyed a beautiful sunny September afternoon overlooking the Rideau Canal, while learning about Chile’s premier family wine estate.

Errazuriz offers excellent wines for every budget.

I was surprised to learn that Canada is their #2 importer, after the UK. I also finally learned how to pronounce Aconcagua!  Think Akonkagwa, with emphasis on kag.

Many thanks for this delightful event and opportunity.” – Jane StaplesErrazuriz tasting4“The passion and enthusiasm of Francisco Baettig amazed me. Despite a grueling Quebec-Ontario tour of four days, he still managed to give an animated and detailed description of the winemaking process for each wine, as well as recounting several vintages before and the prospects for the vintages to come.Courtney

The notable characteristic of Francisco’s wines is their fresh balance of acidity, despite being grown in a very warm and arid country. The main vineyards of Errazuriz are found in the Aconcagua Valley, and its proximity to the Pacific Ocean creates a more Mediterranean climate.

He harvests many of his grapes much later than other Chilean wineries to keep higher levels of acidity. Wines are grown in limestone soils to impart a distinct minerality; and many of his wines see very little new oak to keep their pure fruit characteristics.

The Errazuriz wines are balanced, expertly made, and very reasonably priced for their value. This is a winery that is a force to be reckoned with in Chilean wines.” – Courtney Flood

Errazuriz tasting4“Most wine lovers are familiar with Chili’s flagship cabernets, carmeneres and chardonnays, and Errazuriz certainly produces some of the country’s best. What I was most impressed with, however, were the efforts deployed by Tom Vigeantwinemaker Francisco Baettig to achieve great results with a wider range of wines, including syrah, and cool-climate varieties such as pinot noir and sauvignon blanc, and even roussanne, marsanne and viognier.

It was interesting to learn about the evolution of Errazuriz’s vineyards in the cooler coastal regions of Chile and how they have contributed to this diversity.

I also enjoyed hearing about (and validating first hand!) Mr. Baettig’s refreshing preference for making wines with balanced acidity in which the character of the fruit is not masked by an overly heavy hand on the oak.” – Tom Vigeant

“On September 26th, I had the pleasure of attending an intimate wine tasting with the Chilean house Errazuriz and head winemaker Francisco Baettig. Francisco is a fifth generation winemaker at Errazuriz dating back to 1870. Francisco imparted many interesting facts:

1.      Errazuriz has 8 winemakers in total

2.      Valle Aconcagua is red wine terroir due to warm climate, less rain

3.      Casablanca is mostly white wine (and Pinot noir) terroir due to proximity to Pacific, cool winds.

4.      Chile exports 70% of its wine to the UK, Canada and the US. Canada is #2.Heather Wall

5.      When Carmenere was discovered in Chile it was confused with Merlot. It was called Chilean Merlot.

6.      Chile grows good Malbec but does not want to fight commercially with Argentina so Chile doesn’t promote Malbec production.

7.      The last 3-5 years Chile has experimented with new areas, varietals, dry farming with less Bordeaux influence – work with what they have ie: lots of sunlight, warm temps and little rain during growing season.

8.      In 1993, Syrah came to Chile via French clones. Errazuriz was the first to plant it.

9.      At Errazuriz they prefer new French oak so as not to impart too much smoke or vanilla aromas and flavours.

I came away with a good sense of Francisco Baettig’s passion for wine and winemaking. The wines we tasted were all splendid and unique in their own way. As Francisco explained the process in making each of the wines he was very animated. Once again it affirmed my belief that making really good wines is truly an art and in the heart.” – Heather Wall

“It was very evident to me just how passionate Francesco Baettig is about his winemaking.  As he referred to economiRachelle O'Connorcs and the wine exporting business, I found it interesting that the Canadian wine consumers are especially well regarded by the Chilean winery.

The U.K. and Canada that are their major wine export markets, whereas for other Chilean wineries it is most often the U.S. and U.K. that are number one and number two, respectively.

It was a wonderful experience to meet Francisco Baettig – he exuded un unmistakable talent and passion for his creations. I appreciated the detailed description of the Aconagua Costa vineyards – a very short commute to the Pacific Ocean.

Francesco was superb in his classic description of the vine to table methods and it was really quite something to share in his passion. We sampled some truly wonderful wines and I left with a much broader knowledge of his vision – his ability to have the wines showcase “where they came from” – striving to make the vineyards represent themselves- while exuding characteristics of elegance, complexity, purity and lots of personality.” – Rachelle O’Connor

“In 1870  Don Maximiano Errazuriz planted a vineyard in Panquehue, a small town located North of Santiago in the Aconcagua Valley. Not too long afterwards, Don Maximiano Errazuriz, with the help of his son, Rafael, would own the world’s largest single owner vineyard (~ 700 hectares).  With 140+ vintages under their belt, Errazuriz has made a name for themselves as a pioneer in the Chilean wine industry.

Fast forward 100 years…believe it or not, it was only in the 1980s that Chile began exporting their wine, and now they export a whopping 70% (most countries only dream of doing that).  Foreign markets are enjoying Chilean wines and have been for quite some time.

Chile’s 1000km long stretch of wine regions is producing very interesting wines with sense of place Matt Stevesthanks to the unique terroir found in the different regions.  Head winemaker Francisco Baettig speaks passionately about the unique terroir they have to work with in their portfolio of vineyards.  From coastal, Mediterranean, to more inland, flat and hilly, dry and foggy, they’ve got a lot of land and micro climates to experiment with and from the wines I tasted it appears they’re on the right track.

Francisco and his wine making team have done a remarkable job at showcasing the purity of the wines they produce whether it’s their sub $20 Max Reserva line or their premium ICON range of wines.  With minimal to modest oak programs on each of their wines, they’re striving to capture the best varietal characteristics in each wine without heavy doses of oak to mask undesirable characteristics that are often present in lesser wines.  Francisco’s mission to produce complex yet elegant wines appears to be working well.

Stand out wines for me included each of their ICON wines along with their Max Reserva Carmenere and Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc.” – Matt Steves

Wines Tasted

Click through to see the reviews

 Errazuriz Pinot Noir Errázuriz Pinot Noir
 Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc Errázuriz Sauvignon Blanc
 Errazuriz Cab Sauv 2 Errázuriz Cabernet Sauvignon
LaCumbre Errázuriz La Cumbre Shiraz
 LaEscultura Chardonnay Errázuriz La Escultura Estate Chardonnay
 Errazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc Errazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc
 errzuriz max reserva syrah 2 Errázuriz Max Reserva Syrah
 carmenere 23 Errázuriz Max Reserva Carmenere
 Don Maximiano 2 Errázuriz Don Maximiano
 Kai Errázuriz Kai, Viñedos Max

Errazuriz tasting5



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