PHOTO OPENER: The Aconcagua Valley was chosen by Vina Errazuriz for its ideal viticultural climate, with rainy winters, and the high diurnal temperature changes during its dry and long growing seasons. The result: intense and concentrated flavors.
If asked if there was a signature luxury wine representing Chile’s wine growing regions, the answer would be Seña, which in Spanish implies the term for a distinguishing mark.
It was in the mid 1980s that Robert Mondavi met Eduardo Chadwick, whose Chilean winery, Viña Errazuriz, was founded over 100 years before that fateful meeting.
Mondavi’s recognition of Chile’s potential and a mutual passion for great winemaking with Chadwick, motivated the two to become partners for the production of Seña in 1995.
Seña and its sister label, Arboleda, have – since November 2004 - become solely owned by the Chadwick family, borne from what is considered the highest quality growing region in the country, the Aconcagua Valley.
The practice of biodynamic viticulture at the Seña estate and the sourcing of grapes for Arboleda from the Aconcagua Valley are the new chapter and verse for these wines that are represented on the world stage.
“From a shared dream, we have created a wine that is consistently internationally recognized as the first flagship wine from Chile,” said Chadwick of Seña. “We will also give greater emphasis to our unique terroir expanding the Seña vineyards into a fully self contained wine estate under biodynamic farming, promoting sustainable viticulture.”
Created from traditional Bordeaux varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot – and the “lost Bordeaux varietal,” Carmenère, which has become the iconic grape of Chile, is Seña, the signature wine from Chile.
The winemaking vision for Seña is not just the harmony and elegance produced from one varietal, but by the mastery of blending. Components are aged four to five months in barrel, blended for 14 months in barrels from different coopers (kept in separate lots), and aged two months in tank. Bottled in February of every year, it continues to age in bottle for up to 24 months prior to release.
The plan for the future is to incorporate the other Bordeaux varietals into Seña: Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, according to vintage.
IMAGE “S”: Seña 2002 is noted for its amazing balance, ripeness of fruit and complexity on the palate, from the dark and brooding Carmenère to the ripe, opulent black and red fruit from Merlot to the cigar-box cedar, plush mouthfeel and structure from Cabernet Sauvignon.
Using the best grapes sourced from the original estates from the Mondavi/Chadwick partnership – from Chile’s Colchagua, Maipo and Casablanca vineyards – Arboleda’s destiny will see the wine’s profile broadened by sourcing from the Chadwick’s two new properties in the Aconcagua Valley.
Arboleda is described by Chadwick as a “boutique label;” its style characterized by crisp and fruity cool climate whites and full-bodied and ripe reds. The Arboleda range includes Chardonnay, Merlot, Carmenère, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and the soon-to-be-introduced Sauvignon Blanc.
IMAGE “AR”: Arboleda 2003 Carmenère hails from the Colchagua Valley. Its rich blackberry fruit intertwines with layer upon layer of distinguishing nuances from tobacco to fig to a hint of mint. From the 50% French and 50% American oak in which it is aged (for 12 months), subtle, but nevertheless velvety textured notes of vanilla and coffee are at its pleasant finish.
Distinctive Vineyard Expression, From Palm Trees to Cacti
Photo “V”: The ideally suited terroir for the Seña vineyard site took Eduardo Chadwick four years to choose, the decision based on temperature analysis and the identification of specific microclimates. It is located in the western end of the Aconcagua Valley – with well-drained gravelly soils and morning fog; surrounding hills are covered with native vegetation, from palm trees to cactus. From the same vineyards comes Arboleda, a range of wines produced under sustainable and largely organic practices.