BHW Interviews Eduardo Chadwick, Decanter Man of the Year 2018

 

Greg M.
Welcome everybody to big hammer wines films. This is Greg Martellotto and I'm so pleased to have Eduardo Chadwick from Chile here at Vinexpo in Bordeaux. One of the great things about these events is to bring together people from all over the world. And Eduardo, you are one of the highlights in Chile. I've had the good fortune of visiting Errázuriz, and an amazing property, and you're producing some fantastic wines. And I'm so pleased to have you share some of your story today with us. Thank you.

Eduardo C.
My pleasure Greg. Thank you very much for inviting me to this set.

Greg M.
So one of the great things is is you've been an ambassador for not just your wines, but for Chile in general. And I think that story can start with the Berlin tasting that you organized in 2004 at the Ritz-Carlton. Famous for doing a blind tasting with several top first growths, chateaus, and your wines, and the results was very surprising. Tell us about that.

Eduardo C.
Well, I think Chile... I mean, convinced us at the very beginning that Chile has the potential to produce great wines. World class Wines as good as the best of the key producers in the world. The best of the Napa Valley, Bordeaux, and.... However, it has been kept a little bit as a secret because Chile's far away. So we've had little exposure internationally and we started exporting our wines only in the 1990s. So there was no recognition for Chilean wines and it was difficult to get the critics to really understand...

Eduardo C.
So in the early days, there was a misconception, this perception that Chilean wines are offering good quality but only at affordable prices. So to confront that ridge, that first impression, I had the idea of doing this blind tasting, very similar to what happened, the Judgment of Paris back in-

Greg M.
In 1976.

Eduardo C.
1976 to benchmark our wines, to present our wines, the wines, Don Maximiano, Sena, and Viñedo Chadwick in the company of the best wines of Bordeaux and Tuscany, which already had the recognition and the fame. And this was the master classes to talk about the raw, climate and what would make our wines unique and different. And I had in my mind my hope that one of my wines would be in the top five, to claim. As I wanted to say, "Well, we are in the company of the great wines of the world, please have a look at Chile with this quality perspective."

Greg M.
And what were the results?

Eduardo C.
To everyone's surprise, our wines came the first and second place...

Greg M.
Just like Paris in the 70s, yeah.

Eduardo C.
Like in Paris. And third came Lafite.

Greg M.
That's amazing.

Eduardo C.
Which had been ranked 100 by Parker.

Greg M.
That's right.

Eduardo C.
So this was a David against...

Greg M.
The 2000 Lafite by the way. It was the 2000 Lafite, yeah.

Eduardo C.
Yeah, the 2000 Lafite and Margaux... And 2000, they were all the best ranked Bordeaux wines at the time. And at first I thought to myself, "I'm going to do..." I did of course a little booklet and I started sharing this story around the world. But then some friends would tell me, "Well, this story happened in Berlin. You had the key critics of Europe, but to make it relevant, you should come to my market." And the first one to visit me was a friend in Brazil, said, "You have to come to Brazil, to Sao Paolo." I was scared to death because if I had to redo this tasting-

Greg M.
Were the results replicable?

Eduardo C.
Yeah, absolutely. You have a different panel, different people. It could have played against it, but I was brave enough to do it. That was a risk. And in Brazil, Margaux came first, the second came Viñedo Chadwick, third came Sena. So the result was very similar. Then we went to Tokyo and we had afforded top five, and then this gave me tremendous... I mean I could see that-

Greg M.
And you produced this beautiful book.

Eduardo C.
Yeah.

Greg M.
And-

Eduardo C.
I went to New York and again, we had top Bordeaux , also top Napa, we had Stags' Leap and Opus One, and the winner was a Chilean one. One of our wines got.

Greg M.
Right.

Eduardo C.
So we did 22 tastings around the world, throughout 10 years, reaching out to somewhere around 1500 key opinion leaders. In every country we would invite the most knowledgeable wine writers, Somalis, masters of wine, and the result was very consistent. In more than 90% of the occasions we had one or two of our wines as the top three. So we had a tremendous consistency of preference and of recognition. And this has helped to put Chile on the map, to have the world key critics understand that Chile can offer great wines as good as the best of Napa or other regions of the world.

Greg M.
It's a fantastic story and congratulations. Yeah, and so you told me in 2010 the tasting in New York was actually hosted and moderated with Steven Spurrier, who was of course the organizer of the 1976 Judgment of Paris.

Eduardo C.
Right, and George, who was the wine writer who wrote the news about the wines of Napa, the time he was there. So this was-

Greg M.
Amazing.

Eduardo C.
Repeating this context of really... In 1976, Napa valley was put in the map, this time it was Chile's turn to be put in the map. And I think the repeating this tasting, this exercise has been a tremendous eye opener for the key critiques of the world.

Greg M.
For sure. So let's go back because you're a fifth generation winemaker owner. And there's a great long history here with your family from England and Spain, landing in Chile in the 19th century?

Eduardo C.
Yeah, in 1870.

Greg M.
Right.

Eduardo C.
1970 was the beginning. In fact, they landed before 1840 with the Maximiano. Chadwick was also in the 1800s. The family winery, Viña Errázuriz, was found in 1870. That was the Maximiano, he founded a beautiful property in Aconcagua Valley that you visited. It's a beautiful estate. But then for many years, Chile was kept as a secret because of what? International wine trade didn't exist in the 1800s.

Greg M.
For sure.

Eduardo C.
Similarly, equally with California. So all the one was drank in Chile. We had a high per capita, up to 80 liters, and we had... We never had prohibition as you had in the mid 1900s, but we had prohibition to new plantings in 1933, also in Chile. So because the different governments wanted to take... We had 80 liters per capita of wine drinking, so different successive governments have imposed taxes-

Greg M.
Those are temperance movements.

Eduardo C.
Yeah.

Greg M.
Yes.

Eduardo C.
Not up to the extreme that you have with prohibition, but then the whole wine industry went very sleepy and Chile was a very closed economy, we didn't export much. But everything started to happen when we had some Chicago boys come into Chile in the 1980s, 1970s, and they opened the economy. The Chileans went to study to the US, to Chicago, and Chile embraced free economies, and we started also doing many free trade agreements. Chile is today the country with the most... the highest number of free trade agreements with not only the USA but also with the EU, with China.

Greg M.
China.

Eduardo C.
And most countries in the far East. So we were the first country-

Greg M.
Those of us who produce wine in California are envious of this.

Eduardo C.
Yeah, yeah.

Greg M.
Your competitive advantage.

Eduardo C.
And the Europeans as well. So our wines became quickly known any in Asia, in Japan, Korea, China. And today, in fact, we have the leadership in many of these countries, in Japan, which is the most knowledgeable and sophisticated Asian market. A bit of the magazine, in terms of... People go there to see what will be the trend in Asia, Chilean wines have the largest market share. We're number one and France is number two. And most people, when I tell this story, they're very, very surprised. No one would expect that Chilean wines will be really top notch, I mean, top ranked in Japan.

Greg M.
Right. So you're now distributing wines in how many countries around the world?

Eduardo C.
Well, our top wines like Sena, which was our joint venture, Robert Mondavi, which had also in our mind to really showcase Chile. We started back in 1995, we were distributing through international network of agents, but since 2010 we joined Laplace Bordeaux. And Laplace Bordeaux, we work with the Negozio system and they have a wide network of distribution.

Greg M.
Global.

Eduardo C.
Perhaps 100, more than a hundred countries around the world.

Greg M.
So were you the first Chilean winery to bring your wines to Bordeaux?

Eduardo C.
We were the very first, some 10 years ago from Chile. And at the beginning, there was a bit of a... It Was not easy because Laplace Bordeaux was a closed club for French wines.

Greg M.
Sure, sure.

Eduardo C.
And they were debating whether they should embrace or not in foreign wines. So that was just at the beginning of this discussion, and of course, some people were not that happy that they... Some people claimed, some chateaus wanted to have the brokers, or they were going to focus 100% in French wines. But some others were a bit open, plus the Bordeaux should become the best place in the world for top wine, for world class wines. Happily-

Eduardo C.
Yeah. The same as New York as a financial capital, or Milan as a fashion capital, or-

Greg M.
Yeah.

Eduardo C.
Yeah. I succeeded in having Sena being embraced by the Laplace Bordeaux. Now it is a thriving business. More so, they're coming to Napa. You have now Harlam, Promontory, or this wine from Hollywood by a Hollywood filmmaker.

Greg M.
Francis Ford Coppola.

Eduardo C.
Francis Ford Coppola, joining us with his wine.

Greg M.
His Inglenook.

Eduardo C.
Ingle-

Greg M.
, yeah.

Eduardo C.
So there's also several Napa producers coming to also... to sell their wines. In addition, some Italians have come to also... and Luce. Today there's a... they call it beyond Bordeaux campaign that happens every year in September. They have their own premier campaign, which is happening nowadays, and then in September there's the offering of Opus One, September there's the offering of Opus One, Sena.

Greg M.
But it's interesting, that whole transition and true globalization of this city, and the Grand Plus really is only a decade or so old.

Eduardo C.
Absolutely.

Greg M.
Yeah.

Eduardo C.
It's happening, yeah.

Greg M.
Let's go back and talk about Sena because you have an amazing story when you met Robert Mondavi for the first time. And ultimately, he was one of the people who said, "Hey, this looks really a lot like California and I think this is a place where we could maybe partner on making some great wine." Not unlike he did with Lafite at Opus One, right?

Eduardo C.
With Mouton, yeah.

Greg M.
With Mouton, right.

Eduardo C.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yes, this was back in 1991, the first and trip by Bob to Chile. He came with Margaret and I have just the fondest memories of this trip together with. I was asked to be the chauffeur, so it was... Yeah, I was in my sort of mid 30s and I took him to visit the country, the Aconcagua Valley, Maipo Valley, Colchagua. And by the end of the week he told me, "Eduardo, the terrain that you have reminds me of the Napa valley in the 1960s." When he wanted to create a wine that he could showcase to the world and Napa produce great wines.

Eduardo C.
He succeeded tremendously, he became the iconic man. And when he came to Chile, he was already seen as the iconic figure of the wine world. So for us it was wonderful that he sold us this recognition and he invited me to create a wine. Having in mind how he had created Opus One, he told me, "Opus One has been very instrumental in helping me to elevate the image of Napa."

Greg M.
Sure.

Eduardo C.
So he wanted to create the wine as a joint venture, we created Sena. Sena means signal. So it was a signal to the world that Chile could produce a world class wine and this is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet, which makes it very unique too. It's a Chilean Bordeaux blend.

Greg M.
Sure.

Eduardo C.
So it started as a... We had this commitment of the two families, the alliance of the two families to create a wine of excellence, and we had the signature of Bob Mondavi and my signature. So-

Greg M.
Now, did the state already exist? You already had this property?

Eduardo C.
No.

Greg M.
You acquired a new property?

Eduardo C.
We started with the project, team Mondavi came to work with me and we took us three years to map the whole of the Chilean valleys and to the side where we would locate this vineyard. So we found a beautiful place by the coast, and then we bought it, and we planted with a beautiful, sustainable design. And this a beautiful hillside estate protected, that we farm and by dynamic principle. His last week visit in Chile was this picture that I have here. So were two, tasting, and that was really, that was the time. That was in 2000 and something, and then in 2004, he retired, and then he passed away in 2008. So I always toast with Sena on the memory of Bob Mondavi. And today, as the family, my family left, today I wanted to keep it as a handcrafted project. So it's 100% on my family hands.

Greg M.
And this is the 2016 current release.

Eduardo C.
Yeah.

Greg M.
And am I correct? This wine also received a-

Eduardo C.
This wine... The 15 received 100 points.

Greg M.
Right. Which was the second 100 points score.

Eduardo C.
Yeah. Uh-huh (affirmative).

Greg M.
Uh-huh (affirmative) .

Eduardo C.
And this is 99 points and we are.

Greg M.
Eduardo, you're really just... You letting me down here. From 100 to 99. Yeah, I mean, we expect 100 all the time now. Yeah, it's true. This is something... We have an online retail store that it's maddening to me and I'm curious to know what your perspective is. But these wines, a number of top wines in Chile scoring similarly or higher from the same critics, often in the 95 to 100 points scores are available at a quarter to a half of the price of the comparable first growth chateaus in Bordeaux, and a even, of course, some of the Napa wines. And yet it seems the consumers are still reluctant or in some way unfamiliar. What's your sense? People just haven't had a chance to taste the wines?

Eduardo C.
I think what happens is that the US has been very US centered and on California wines. So the people have the history, I mean, they understand California wines. And then when it comes to international wines, I think there's more knowledge on Bordeaux and Tuscany, but Chile somehow continues to be unknown in the fine wine. I think Chilean wines enter into the entry level and some people think Chile is just sort of affordable wines. But we've been doing masterclasses, teaching, and it's been faster... I think the Asians have been faster to to educate or they've been more intrigued because they're learning about wine today, so it was a blank page, and they are very eager to learn.

Eduardo C.
Today, our wines are thriving in Tokyo, in Hong Kong, in Asia, in London as well with all the brokers. So our wines are very well received around the world. I would say perhaps the weakest understanding today is in the US market.

Greg M.
It's a shame.

Eduardo C.
But it-

Greg M.
I hope we can change that.

Eduardo C.
It's a difficult market to tackle because of the three-tier system and because it has been so concentrated on it's own.

Greg M.
Yes.

Eduardo C.
But it's definitely a market that we are pursuing. We are working now through our plans and we will love to... I mean, we are doing activities with Sena, with the key... some of the key brokers or key retailers. But essentially, what you say is true. I mean, we have today a thriving success in the key capitals of the world, and the US, it's been a bit more shy. I mean, it's not... Chilean wines are not understood as well as in other regions of the world. So we need to spend more time, and also, I think it's opening the minds of the wine lovers. I mean, I'm delighted that you have invited me to share our story, because this story... I mean, most people in in the US know about the Judgment of paris.

Greg M.
Right.

Eduardo C.
Very few of them know about the Berlin tasting, although we did it for many critics.

Greg M.
Correct, correct.

Eduardo C.
And kept, I mean, like a secret.

Greg M.
So just to clarify, Sena and Viñedo Chadwick, now these wines are produced in Chile then travel to Bordeaux?

Eduardo C.
Yeah.

Greg M.
And from Bordeaux they're redistributed globally?

Eduardo C.
Yeah.

Greg M.
So you don't sell them direct out of Chile?

Eduardo C.
No.

Greg M.
Just at our cities it's so direct?

Eduardo C.
Yeah.

Greg M.
Amazing. What a global, truly global business.

Eduardo C.
I mean, they put containers together with the grand crew wines and they... So they have a very, very coupled distribution system where they can reach different people with a smaller amount cases. So these wines, you don't sell them by containers, you sell them by cases.

Greg M.
Right, right.

Eduardo C.
To the top accounts in the world.

Greg M.
Right. That's fantastic.

Eduardo C.
But it's been a fantastic experience, I'm very happy. I have to say that 20 years ago when we launched Sena, it was also very successful in the US because we were working with the Robert Mondavi team and they had a good-

Greg M.
Distribution.

Eduardo C.
A distribution network and Sena was thriving. When I lost distribution because of the-

Greg M.
Purchase.

Eduardo C.
Mondavi family lost control, I had to start rebuilding this distribution with Laplace Bordeaux , and it's taken time but it's happening. I mean, I see Sena taking back... I mean, regaining this recognition, but I think it's a story that definitely needs to be told in a stronger way.

Greg M.
So let me ask you a question. I mean, I know that you've been traveling the world, literally, and sharing the story, these great wines for 20 plus years at least. And do you... What's next? I mean, what's... I feel like it seems like you're bearing the fruit of all of that marketing effort, and travel, and storytelling. I know that you're still ambitious, but what's next for you?

Eduardo C.
Well, sadly, we don't have Hollywood in Chile. So the Judgment of Paris had a couple of movies that tell the story. Now, we're doing a documentary nowadays, Icons of Chile to concertedly to the James Orr, that's going to be shown in China and all around the world. A documentary of Chile to tell the story. We are printing some books in different languages that we... Ideally we may have a future. I mean, I love to have a Hollywood movie on a success like Bottle Shock.

Greg M.
Sure, sure.

Eduardo C.
But what we are doing today is really continuing to educate on what we're doing.

Greg M.
So the marketing errands?

Eduardo C.
Yeah. It's we have ghosted vertical tastings to showcase the raw, we bring people to Chile, tourism is happening. Although we are far away, we have more and more visitors. So it's really, it's educating about fine Chilean wines and building the success story. You go to Napa today and of course, it's so different to what it was in the 1960s.

Greg M.
Sure.

Eduardo C.:
I see Chile, it's taken more time because of distances, but today, with modern technology, with the way the social network... We chat in China, stories are spread much faster and I see that we have a real traction happening led by Asia, Japan, China. And I think there's openness of Chile to the world. So, to be honest, I think it's a very nice point of inflection. We've done many years ago of working, it's like the workhorse, and then suddenly the world is recognizing. I was very happy that Decanter named me Decanter Man of the Year last year.

Greg M.
Congratulations.

Eduardo C.
And not for me, but it's for Chile. It was a recognition for Chile entering this hall of world class region. In the past it was Alexandra Mentzelopoulos from Margaux, it was Piero Antinori for discovering, making Super Tuscan wines to be known with Raymond. We have for Burgundy, and of course Robert Mondavi.

Greg M.
That's the Hall of Fame.

Eduardo C.
As the ambassador.

Greg M.
They're in the Hall of Fame now.

Eduardo C.
Of Napa. They invited me as the last them, me as the last Mohican. Because now they've changed the name, I'm the last Mohican of Decanter Man of the Year. It's a recognition to Chile, to find wines from Chile-

Greg M.
Entering.

Eduardo C.
Entering this club of world class wines.

Greg M.
That's amazing.

Eduardo C.
So I think it's the... It's finally the 300, the circle being completed.

Greg M.
One other thing you could think about in terms of your marketing, of course, you're already strong in Asia, is Jean-Luc Thunevin.

Eduardo C.
Yes.

Greg M.
He was a character and his wine and a manga, in a Japanese manga cartoon.

Eduardo C.
We-

Greg M.
You'd be very good for that. I can see you being a character.

Eduardo C.
We have a manga by the way, we-

Greg M.
You did already?

Greg M.
You already got it covered.

Eduardo C.
By the brothers.

Greg M.
Oh, okay.

Eduardo C.
In Japan. And they compared, they made this competition, benchmarking Viñedo Chadwick and Champagnes Alone. And at the end the outcome was the two were offering great finesse and elegance, and they're describing Chadwick as a ballerina. Because also, there's a point interesting to share about style. Our style, and our geography, and our terrain allow us to produce wines that have full brightness, but also have the freshness and the purity. So our wines are normally with this great balance. We're not aiming at big, powerful wines, which is perhaps the whole mark of Napa. I mean, of course, I love them, but our style is more-

Greg M.
Blended.

Eduardo C.
Blend-

Greg M.
Maybe more of a-

Eduardo C.
And balance. So we normally had 13, 15, five alcohol with good freshness, good acidity-wise with great longevity. So that's also very relevant because we offer a unique style that is not Napa nor Bordeaux. It's Chilean style.

Greg M.
So, tell me, what is wine to you? Wine is in your blood, it seems like and-

Eduardo C.
Well, it's been my life. I started pruning in the vineyards in my earliest ages, earning some money harvesting in Europe when I was a student. I mean, earned some money literally for for my travels. And then when I joined in 1983, I was just coming out of university and I wasn't an expert. So the first thing that my father did was to send me to Bordeaux. I studied at the University of Bordeaux, fulminology. I'm not a winemaker, but it's been a life of traveling, learning, coming back.

Eduardo C.
And also it's really so... How do you say? It's been inspiring and it's been really wonderful to see that many years of hardship, of difficulty... It hasn't been an easy ride, it's been many years. Particularly for Chilean producers, it's been a tough 30 years of trying to get a message. We have had many hurdles, but it's been fun and you also get to know wonderful-

Greg M.
If it had been easier, it wouldn't have bee worth the while.

Eduardo C.
Yeah.

Greg M.
Right?

Eduardo C.
It's true. But you make wonderful friends from around the world, you make friends. And at the end, happily, when we actually had the conditions, we could prove it. But also is understanding the philosophy, the people from around the world. So when we introduced our wines in Japan, in China, in Europe or in the US, an opportunity to work, for example with Bob Mondavi, with Tim, and it was just a... Yeah, it was a dream. I was in my 30s, he was in his 80s, he was already an iconic figure. The thing that he would like to do wine in Chile almost to help us, because he was already... I mean, he saw the opportunity and he was so generous.

Eduardo C.
And so we had this vision and he knew what could happen, and here we are today. I mean, with Sena fully established in Laplace Bordeaux and well recognized. So, it's been a wonderful product, but it's the way of life. And the people that love wine and I think we were celebrating last week with some wine writers in London, and many other wine writers. And we're saying that in the room it was just a group of friends that have been... Well, for 30 years, getting to know each other and it's been a wonderful way of life. And I think that's something quite unique in the wine industry.

Eduardo C.
In every industry, people... I mean, relationships are important. But in wine, I think perhaps even a bit more because it goes beyond business. You dedicate so much time, and then you work with the land, you want to be sustainable in farming, then you... It's a product that brings you from the land to the grading product, and then all the international marketing and presenting it in the right way. And so it's...

Greg M.
No, it's true. And I think that's part of your great example and that's a really good depiction of why wine is unique and different. You can distill products, you can make a vodka anytime, you can make a beer every month or two. I mean, this is something that takes time and there really is a romance and a culture of food and wine. And I find wine people tend to also be appreciative of art and maybe lifestyle.

Eduardo C.
Yeah.

Greg M.
And I think that's really the story that we want to tell to people and say in this bottle is not only this amazing story of you and Bob Mondavi and how this got started, but also the essence of your family and Chile, and, and this is you caring card.

Eduardo C.
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Greg M.
And that's an amazing product because it's so rare.

Eduardo C.
Absolutely. I think wine is true ambassador to Chile. When we have visitors, we like to really show them Chile, the best of Chile, our traditions, our history. So, I mean, this book for example, I started by showcasing to Nobel prize, Paul of Chile.

Greg M.
Neruda and Mr. Ram. Uh-huh (affirmative) .

Eduardo C.
Yeah. That's Chile, Chile's land. And they all were dedicating poems to Chile's land, all the wine. And wines are part of our root, it's really part of the history of Chile. So it stands on the land of Chile, that's the beginning. Wine has been really part of our history. So I think fine wine is really taking us back, it's a way to showcase the this history of Chile.

Greg M.
Yeah.

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