Chile's Errazuriz Winery Challenges Burgundy With Pinot Noir

  • Producer already has track record with cabernet sauvignon
  • Major export markets for Chilean company include U.K., U.S.

Errazuriz, the Chilean winery founded in the 1870s, has already learned how to compete with the best of Bordeaux. Now it’s taking aim at Burgundy.

The company plans to sell wines from classic Burgundy grape varieties, pinot noir and chardonnay, at premium prices, pitched at 80 pounds ($119) or more per bottle in the U.K. for the reds and 60 pounds for the whites. The grapes will come from single-site vineyards.

Errazuriz already makes high-end wines based on the Bordeaux grape cabernet sauvignon, including Don Maximiano, Sena and Chadwick, some of which sell for $80 or more a bottle. The company has pitted its wines in blind tastings around the world over the past decade against top wines from Bordeaux, Italy and California’s Napa Valley.

“We have a project for pinot noir and chardonnay from the coastal plains,” Errazuriz President Eduardo Chadwick said in an interview on a trip to London in September. “We are trying to do what we did with the icons of Bordeaux blends, with Burgundy.”

Errazuriz in 1985 set up a joint venture with Napa Valley wine producer Robert Mondavi, producing Sena, and took control of the label after Constellation Brands Inc. won approval to acquire the Mondavi winery in 2004. The Chilean company exports worldwide, with the U.K. its main market, the U.S. its second-largest, and China in third place.

Errazuriz vineyard and winery, Chile.

Source: Errazuriz/Hatch Mansfield.

Chadwick said Asia is an expanding market for wine, while the pace of U.S. demand growth is slower. The company exports about 90 percent of its production, a reflection of the overseas brand strength of Chilean cabernet sauvignon.

Chadwick now anticipates that some of that export demand can be diverted to pinot noir and chardonnay.

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