Thirty years ago this year, Chilean winemaker Eduardo Chadwick teamed up with California’s Robert Mondavi to make a world-class wine in Chile. The result was Seña, the first Chilean icon wine, whose current vintage is arguably the best ever.
In the early 1990s, Chile was becoming known for mass-produced, affordable wines, but Chadwick, whose family owns the Errázuriz winery, knew that the country could produce top-quality wines. Chadwick and Mondavi aspired to produce a fresh, balanced wine unlike the riper, fruitier wines from Chile’s generally warm growing conditions.
To this end, a dedicated vineyard was created in the Aconcagua Valley, north of Santiago and about 40 kilometres from the coast. There the vines would benefit from both the bright sunlight from the generally cloudless Chilean skies and the cooling breezes from the Pacific Ocean.
Seña means “sign,” as it was to be a sign of Chile’s ability to make fine wine. The first vintage was 1995, and it was released in 1997 to critical praise. Seña went on to outclass some of the most prestigious Bordeaux and Super-Tuscan wines in the 2004 Berlin Tasting—a replay of the famous Judgment of Paris of 1976, where California wines beat the best of Bordeaux. In Berlin, Seña 2001 ranked second and bested Bordeaux greats such as Margaux, Latour, and Lafite Rothschild. It was beaten only by Eduardo Chadwick’s other icon wine, Viñedo Chadwick.