Both debut wines from this project, a 2000 Cabernet and 2000 Merlot, scored 87 points on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale, and will be priced at about $10 per bottle.
Although the wines are just being unveiled, the winery has been in the works for some time. Odfjell Vineyards is owned by Dan Odfjell, whose Norwegian shipping business brought him into contact with Chile in the '60s and '70s. Odfjell purchased property in the Maipo Valley in 1982, and eventually planted vines there in the early 1990s.
Odfjell's son Laurence, a graduate of the Yale School of Architecture, designed a gravity-flow winery -- the first of its type to be built in South America. Construction was started in 1995 and completed in time for the 1998 harvest. (The 1998 and '99 wines were trial runs and were not released.) Laurence has since helped design Kendall-Jackson's winery facilities in South America.
Making the wines is Arnaud Hereau, a Bordeaux-trained enologist who now lives in Chile, along with California winemaker Paul Hobbs. Prior to Odfjell, Hereau had worked at Château Carbonnieux in Pessac-Léognan. Recently, Hobbs has become increasingly busy in South America, as part-owner of Argentina's Viña Cobos and also as consultant for Chile's MontGras and Argentina's Bodegas San Telmo.
Production of the 2000 wines totaled 11,100 cases for the Cabernet and 485 cases for the Merlot, with some grapes coming from Odfjell's estate vineyards and some purchased from other sources.
Odfjell is also preparing to release another wine, called Asgard. A blend of Cabernet, Carmenère and Carignane, Asgard is scheduled for release in 2002. No price has been set yet.
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