A couple of months back Simon tasted a wine blind with two friends, and rather than disclose his attempts at identification in full here, let’s just say that in terms of origin he was 11,702 kilometres out.
According to Google, this is the approximate distance between Chile and Burgundy… The wine in question was the second vintage of a limited production, single-vineyard Chardonnay called ‘Las Pizarras’ from Errázuriz. I was staggered by the texture, the raciness and mineral nuances – I thought it was an impressive Chablis Grand Cru from a slightly warmer vintage. I knew very little of the wine but made a note to learn more. Further digging, and I feel vindicated in my blind tasting assessment when I read Luis Guttiérez’s tasting note for the very same vintage on erobertparker.com. He commented that he would be ‘pressed to say this was not a Grand Cru Chablis if tasted blind.’ Good old Luis.
I have now tasted each vintage of the Chardonnay and two vintages of the Pinot Noir – the wines were first produced in the 2014 vintage. They have consistently impressed me… two world class wines that I had never encountered before. We offer the 2016 Chardonnay, ‘Las Pizarras’, Errasuriz, Aconcagua Costa and 2016 Pinot Noir, ‘Las Pizarras’, Errázuriz, Aconcagua Costa at £215 and £320 per six bottle-case in bond respectively below.
Viña Errázuriz was founded back in 1870 by Don Maximiano who was the first to plant French grape varieties in the Aconcagua Valley, which lies 90 kilometres to the north of Santiago. The valley, is shaped by the Aconcagua River, which flows from the Andes to the Pacific Ocean and provides alluvial and colluvial terraces ideal for viticulture. The vineyard from which the two ‘Las Pizarras’ wines are produced lies in the coastal area, only 12 kilometres from the Pacific and thereby benefits from the cooler, moderating influence of the sea. The soils here, complex strata of clay and rock with a thin loam covering, are ideally suited to the cultivation of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The ‘Las Pizarras’ wines are sourced entirely from the Aconcagua Costa vineyard; the fruit is taken from specific plots where there is a notable component of schist (pizarra in Spanish), which gives rise to dramatic quality.
The Chardonnay impresses with the purity of its juicy melon and citrus fruits as well as its outstanding persistence. Complex notes of lees and gentle background toast build on the palate as does the feeling of richness, but this vintage retains its poise. Indeed, the 2016 has such mineral drive that it carries the flavours long into the finish, leaving you with a mouth-watering stony, lime zest character – I will be fascinated to see how this ages as comparatively few Burgundy at this price show such verve. This is no simple Chardonnay – truly special. The Pinot Noir is seriously head-turning, it may not have such a strong Burgundian profile, but it boasts such a seductive fruit, with notes of sour cherry and small dark berries…The silkiness on the palate adds to a wonderfully harmonious impression; ripe, juicy and captivating. Once more there is a discernible mineral trait and hints of spice and background toast. Fresh, pure and stylish, there is head and shoulders above any Pinot Noir I have tasted from South America.
The 2016 Pinot Noir has just been released so to date comparatively few critics have tasted, the Chardonnay was released in earlier this year. James Suckling saw fit to award the 2016s 98 and 99 points respectively (see below). Luis Gutiérrez of erobertparker.com is yet to taste, though he scored the 2015 Pinot Noir 94 points, commenting that the ‘freshness, texture and depth’ were ‘gobsmacking’. The 2015 Chardonnay scored 95 points with Gutierrez and he called it ‘a world-class Chardonnay from Chile’ that he would love to see in ten years’ time. Tim Atkin MW awarded the 2015 Chardonnay score of 97 points, choosing it as ‘Chile’s Best White Wine of the Year’ with following review: ‘Francisco Baettig thinks this is the best wine he’s ever made and I’m inclined to agree, as it sets a new benchmark for South American Chardonnay. Savoury, focused and stylishly oaked, with notes of lemon zest and baking spices, it wouldn’t look out of place in a line-up of Grands Crus Burgundies.’ It is worth stressing that these wines are only in their third vintage, so these plaudits have greater significance.
2016 Chardonnay, ‘Las Pizarras’, Errázuriz, Aconcagua Costa
£215 per 6 bottle-case in bond
98 points, James Suckling
So perfumed with honey, melon, lilac flower and cooked apple aromas. Just a hint of cream. Full body yet linear and racy with a bright and intense acidity. Very energetic and powerful. Dense and layered. It rolls off the palate and grabs your attention. Best white of Chile this year for the second year in a row. Electric. Drink now or hold.
2016 Pinot Noir, ‘Las Pizarras’, Errázuriz, Aconcagua Costa
£320 per 6 bottle-case in bond
99 points, James Suckling
The mineral, stone, slate and violet aromas are superb. Full body, dense and silky texture. So much beautiful fruit yet it's so reserved and refined. Layered and complete. Fantastic acidity at the finish. Iron, iodine and oyster. Long finish. Superb follow up to the 2015. Drink or hold.
Production of each wines is limited – to say the least – with approximately 4,000 bottles of Chardonnay and 6,000 bottles of Pinot Noir produced on average each year.