Kai 2006, a high-end $80 Carmenère from Chile’s Aconcagua Valley, was voted best in show at an exclusive 10-wine competition held May 10 in New York, much to the surprise of the 70 members of the wine press and trade who tasted and rated the wines.
Topping the likes of Opus One and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars SLV from Napa, Sassicaia from the Maremma in Italy, and Bordeaux first growths Château Lafite-Rothschild and Château Haut-Brion, Kai, which is made by Viña Errazuriz, posted an eye-opening victory in the so-called “Berlin Tasting-New York” of pedigreed wines from the ’06 vintage. Also in the tasting were four other wines from Errazuriz: Viñedo Chadwick, a Maipo Valley Cabernet Sauvignon; La Cumbre, an Aconcagua Syrah; and Seña and Don Maximiano, both Aconcagua red blends.
The tasting, which was first held in Berlin in 2004 and has been replicated a number of times since in major wine markets around the world, was led by Eduardo Chadwick, owner of Viña Errazuriz; Michael Quinttus, founder of Vintus, Errazuriz’s U.S. importer; Francisco Baettig, Errazuriz’s head winemaker; and Steven Spurrier, the renowned British wine journalist famous for staging the now-legendary Paris tasting of 1976, where a pair of Napa Valley wines bested the competition from France.
“We chose Berlin in 2004 because the city was in the midst of a rebirth, and we were pleasantly stunned when Viñedo Chadwick and Seña 2000 finished first and second,” explained Chadwick. “Since then we have taken the tasting to cities like Beijing, Hong Kong, London and Sao Paulo. New York seemed like the perfect place for a finale given its importance in the global wine market.”
For anyone not familiar with the Carmenère grape, it originally hails from Bordeaux, but after the phylloxera blight of the 19th century it was not replanted due to ripening issues. Subsequently, vine cuttings were transported to Chile, where for a long time it was mistaken for being Merlot. However, in 1994 a French ampelographer named Jean-Michel Boursiquot determined which of Chile’s vines were indeed Carmenère, and over the past 15 years the variety has taken off, with wineries making rich, deep, complex Carmenères such as the Kai 2006, which Wine Enthusiast rated 92 points last year. Today approximately 98% of the world’s Carmenère exists in Chile.
Results of the Berlin Tasting-New York, held May 10 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel
1: Errazuriz Kai 2006 (Aconcagua Valley)
2: Opus One 2006 (Napa Valley)
3: Château Haut-Brion 2006 (Bordeaux)
4: Errazuriz Don Maximiano 2006 (Aconcagua Valley)
5: Château Lafite-Rothschild 2006 (Bordeaux)
6: Errazuriz La Cumbre 2006 (Aconcagua Valley)
7: Errazuriz Seña 2006 (Aconcagua Valley)
8: Stag’s Leap SLV 2006 (Napa Valley)
9: Errazuriz Viñedo Chadwick (Maipo Valley) and Sassicaia (Bolgheri, Italy)