Escudo Rojo is the result of the encounter between Chilean terroirs and the know-how of French winemaking titan Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA. Since its creation in 1999, it has stood as the worthy heir of Baron Philippe de Rothschild in Chile.
The decision to embark on Chile held true to the pioneering spirit of its founder, Baron Philippe. What attracted Baroness Philippine de Rothschild (Baron Philippe’s daughter) was the potential of the Chilean terroir and the possibility of making high-quality branded wines that met her exacting requirements. This is exemplified by its name, since Escudo Rojo is the Spanish translation of the German “Rote Schild”, which means red shield. By giving her name to the wine, Baroness Philippine showed that the Rothschild family had come to Chile to stay.
With suitable soils and a varied topography and climate, conditions in Chile are in fact ideal for revealing expressive, diverse wines, with structured depth and elegance. The country’s many key growing districts only prove that Chile is a true winegrowing paradise. But Baroness Philippine had her eyes set on one in particular: The Maipo Valley.
Maipo is the flagship of Chilean winegrowing and the birthplace of Escudo Rojo. It is an area bounded to the north by the Chacabuco range, to the south by the Angostura de Paine (a narrowing of the central plain), to the east by the Andes Mountains and to the west by the coastal range. It spans 80 kilometres long and 35 kilometres wide, and is comprised of more than 12,000 hectares. The soil is mostly silt over a subsoil of gravel, sand and some clay.
The Maipo Valley is famous for cabernet sauvignon, just like the Medoc, where Baron Philippe de Rothschild has its winegrowing roots. The exacting standards applied in Chile are no doubt drawn from the company’s legendary experience. Parcel selection and the art of blending, key to the success of Baron Philippe de Rothschild wines, are also used in Chile at their 60-hectare vineyard located 45 kilometres south of Santiago.
Since 2015, the winery has been headed by Emmanuel Riffaud. An agricultural engineer and oenologist, Riffaud joined Baron Philippe de Rothschild in 1999 as a member of the Mouton Cadet technical team before moving to Chile in 2008.
Riffaud’s high standards and precision can be found at all stages of the making of Escudo Rojo wines. The exceptional terroirs from which the wines come, as well as the men and women who tend the vines, need to be preserved and respected. That is why Baron Philippe de Rothschild, through Riffaud, has implemented appropriate, sustainable vineyard practices consistent with its “Sustainable Wine of Chile” certification:
- Natural compost is used as fertiliser.
- Organic products are used to combat the main fungal diseases found in the vineyard (mildew, oidium and botrytis), with the aim of eliminating residues in the wines.
- Water use is optimized and measures are in place to take advantage of renewable energy sources, such as solar panels.
Escudo Rojo therefore offers a comprehensive range of wines that reveal the finest expressions of French and native grape varieties grown on Chile’s rich terroirs.
Let’s take a look at some of the wines on offer from Escudo Rojo:
Escudo Rojo 2019 Reserva Chardonnay
Fruit for this chardonnay was sourced from an area known as the Valle de Casablanca which is situated near the Pacific coast, about 80km northwest of Santiago. The ocean influence helps regulate vineyard temperatures, making this an important spot for growing white varieties like chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. The nose here is quite intense, showing complex and varied aromas of ripe pineapple, lemon curd, pear, fresh straw and vanilla almond. The palate is fresh and smooth, full bodied and textured. Grapefruit saltiness and minerality immediately come to mind along with pineapple and some slick butter. It’s beautifully bound together by firm and structured acidity and the finish is long and toasty. An impressive chardonnay that can age and develop further. Memorable and made for the value obsessed. ($17.95)
Mapu 2019 Carmenere
Hailing from a micro-terroir within the Maule Valley, this is a lighter, greener, yet still varietally correct expression of carmenere that delivers fresh, fruit-forward and typical aromas and flavours of blackberry and black cherry, as well as black pepper and clove spice. Balanced with good acidity and a clean, fresh finish. Made for drinking now and suitable as a pairing for most dishes. Best served slightly chilled. ($13.95)
Escudo Rojo 2019 Reserva Carmenere
Carmenere is a wine that Chile does very well and this is a fine example from the particularly hot and dry 2019 vintage – despite its rather high dose of 14.5% abv. Aged eight months in 20 percent new oak, the wine pours purplish red, with beautiful violet highlights. The nose is intense, with fruity and spicy notes of bay leaf, rosemary and peppercorn – an expected result for well-made carmenere. There’s even hints of roasted coffee, something that’s imparted through its use of French oak for aging. The palate is velvety soft, with well-balanced acidity and refined tannins. Flavours are focused with just enough of those green, vegetal notes but not coming off as dramatic as was with the Mapu expression. Spiced fruit carries through to the refreshing finish. Tastes like it should cost more. ($17.95)
Escudo Rojo 2019 Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon
Chile is widely known to produce some of the best valued cabernets in world, and this one from Escudo Rojo’s flagship Reserva lineup holds true to that expectation. Right on form, this wine does not disappoint. This is no simplistic wine. There’s plenty of flavours here to sort through, including blackcurrant, earth, chocolate, and minty herbal notes. It’s fairly dense and full bodied, with smoothened tannins and a reasonable finish. A solid cabernet from a region that’s, above all else, consistent. ($17.95)
Escudo Rojo 2018 Origine
This is made entirely from cabernet sauvignon grapes grown in a selection of the best micro-parcels for the variety in the winery’s Maipo Valley vineyard. The powerful and intense nose opens on very forward fruit, with prominent aromas of black fruits, developing notes of black pepper and emphasized by subtle toasted hazelnut, caramel and mocha from time spent in oak. A rich and complex wine, it displays an attractive, close-knit tannic structure with excellent, lingering blackberry fruit and pepper notes on the palate. The finish is firm, dense and balanced, rounding off a very welcomed array of aromas and flavours. This should be in its best form from 2024 through 2028. ($30)