Eduardo Chadwick, chairman of Chilean wineries Vina Errazuriz and Vina Sena, speaks at a gala dinner held in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Berlin Tasting, a blind tasting initiative that toured 17 countries.
Gala dinner marks 10th anniversary of Berlin Tasting
By Kwon Ji-youn, Yoon Sung-won
European countries including France, Italy, Spain and Portugal have set the standards for world-class wine, but Chile has recently joined their ranks, according to Eduardo Chadwick, chairman of wineries Vina Errazuriz and Vina Sena in the South American country.
Chadwick said that Chilean wine, including his family's very own Vinedo Chadwick, have been recognized and acknowledged by key opinion leaders around the world as some of the best
"Chile started exporting wines in the 1990s, but many considered the country a region unknown until only recently," he said in an interview with The Korea Times at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Tuesday.
"Many assumed our wine was perhaps good quality wine just for daily consumption. People were skeptical and the rankings were not giving us full justice," he added.
Chadwick joined his father's wine business straight out of university, mesmerized by its art, heritage and tradition. He took on the challenge of promoting Chilean wine worldwide.
"Chile was just beginning to open its frontiers to the world," he said. "It had been a closed economy for years. My challenge was to develop our exports and help people understand that Chile can produce world-class wine."
Invitees attend a gala dinner held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, central Seoul, Tuesday, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Berlin Tasting and to promote Chilean wine. / Korea Times photo by Yoon Sung-won
Chadwick needed judgment without prejudice to prove that Chilean wine was of a quality high enough to compete with the best wines of the world. And that chance came in the form of the Berlin Tasting.
The Berlin Tasting, a blind tasting initiative that toured 17 countries, established Chile's place among the world's greatest wine appellations. Chilean wine placed in the top three ranks in 19 of the 21 tastings, achieving a 90 percent preference rate by palates from around the world.
At the very first tasting in Berlin, Vinedo Chadwick 2000 and Sena 2001, both produced by Chadwick's wineries, placed first and second respectively, a result that no one had expected.
"At first, I thought I would have been happy to have one of our wines in the top five," Chadwick said. "Coming in first made an impact."
But once was not enough. Chadwick knew it would come with risks, but he was determined to continue the tastings with the aim of creating major demand. The second tasting was in Brazil, where Vinedo Chadwick 2000 placed second, and Sena 2001 placed third. And Chilean wines continued to show remarkable consistency at the following tastings in major cities including Tokyo, Copenhagen and Beijing.
At the tasting in Seoul in 2013, the Chilean wine Don Maximiano 2009 placed first and Chadwick's Sena 1997 placed second.
"We also wanted to convince the world that our wines were aging beautifully," he said.
To Chadwick, Seoul presented a challenge and an opportunity. In 2011, Chadwick hosted a Sena Vertical Tasting in the Korean capital, with just a range of vintages from the same grapes and vineyard. Sena 2008 placed first and Sena 2005 came in second.
Chadwick stressed that although the results did seem surprising at first, they were most definitely accurate, as Chilean wine is produced in some of the most sustainable vineyards in the world.
"And it was in Seoul were we have held more events than anywhere else in the region," he said. "Chile enjoys a tremendous market share here compared to other countries."
In line with their previous efforts, Chadwick and Choi Min-ah, executive director of the magazine Wine Review, hosted a gala dinner in Seoul to honor the 10th anniversary of the Berlin Tasting, Tuesday evening.
This event showcased vintages and presented a five-course dinner with iconic wines reflecting special occasions. Korean mountaineer Um Hong-gil, Chilean Ambassador to Korea Hernan Brantes and Korea Times President-Publisher Park Moo-jong also attended the gala dinner.
"Our wine is beginning to be widely recognized as one of the world's finest, so there is nothing left to prove," Chadwick said at the dinner. "I would like to thank our goodwill ambassadors for promoting our wine. It's an honor to be here."