James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com (April 2019)
About this WINE
Baron Philippe de Rothschild
Baron Philippe de Rothschild is known world over through its ownership of Château Mouton- Rothschild and its involvement with projects such as Opus One in California. In 1997 it joined forces with Concha y Toro to produce the ultra-premium Almaviva. Escudo Rojo represents the next chapter in the company's Chilean operations. Escudo Rojo is a literal Spanish translation of Rothschild, which itself comes from the German "das rote schild", a reference to the red shield which originally served as the family crest.
With Escudo Rojo, winemaker Patrick Leon has sought to create a balanced Bordeaux-like blend Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet France, Carmenère and Merlot from select sources in Chile's Maipo and Rapel regions. Harvested by hand in small bins, the grapes are transported to the bodega where they are mechanically destemmed and lightly crushed. After fermentation and skin contact, the wine is drained off the tanks and is then partially aged in new French oak barrels for approximately 12 months. 1999 was the inaugural vintage.
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.