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Laura Heywood blogs from Europe's first Seña vertical tasting

Published:  18 May, 2012

Pitting your wines against the best of its rivals is either a very clever PR exercise or a recipe for a disaster.

Whether organising comparative blind tastings shows arrogance or pride (or perhaps a little bit of both), one thing's for sure; it demonstrates a willingness to stand up and be judged against your peers.

For Eduardo Chadwick, president and owner of Chile's Vina Seña, devising a series of blind vertical tastings of his Seña wines against Bordeaux and Tuscan stalwarts isn't about "trying to prove we're the best". "We're just trying to prove we're world class," he explains.

Since 2004 when the exercise began, taking this gamble has certainly paid off for Chadwick and the Seña brand. In the Berlin tasting, Seña 2001 came in the second place atop all the revered first growths. At number one was Viñedo Chadwick 2000, third place was Chateau Lafite 2000 and in joint fourth place was Château Margaux 2001 and Seña 2000.

In the first ever vertical tasting of Seña in Hong Kong, Taipei and Seoul, wine professionals aslo placed the Chilean wine as their favourite against the first growths of Bordeaux. In fact, tasters were so taken with Seña that different vintages scooped all five top spots. The same result was repeated in Taipei.

Today saw the first vertical tasting take place in Europe, offering a chance for the London wine trade to make their own judgements on the wines and their ageing potential.

Moderated by Peter Richards MW and Steven Spurrier - who has previous form in this type of competition with his infamous Judgement of Paris - the room were tasked with tasting 10 wines, blind, and to rank their top five. In the line-up were Seña vintages dating back to the wine's origins in 1995.

Blind tasting is a great way to encourage tasters to "focus on the quality in the glass and style, irrespective of origin," said Richards, who encouraged the room to judge each wine on its own merit rather than trying to work out where it's from.

The results were another triumph for Seña, with the 2008 vintage being voted the London wine trade's favourite wine. Taking the second spot was Seña 2010, an incredibly young en primeur wine that showed fine tannins, a sleek palate and youthful elegance. In joint third was Château Margaux 2001 and Sassicaia 2005, and Seña 2001 took the fifth position.

For Chadwick, such conclusions are instrumental in delivering "a message about quality and preferences". It also demonstrates to the wider wine world that the wines have the ability to age as well as well-known Bordeaux and Italian veterans.

"I'm surprised to see there was a consistency in terms of appreciation of our Chilean wines," he said of the agreement amongst the London professionals tasting today. "Seña is consistently always in the top five which for me is a great message."

According to Chadwick, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenère blends are "becoming a classic for Chile and a wine that's being widely recognised around the world". If the results of the vertical tastings are anything to go by, he may just be right.