DWWA 2013 International Trophies: Chardonnay Under £15
Concha y Toro, Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay, Limarí Valley, Chile 2011 (14%)
Spicy, dried fruit aromas with apple and apricot over an oily palate. Peach, citrus and brioche with a long, nutty finish.
UK £9.99–£13; InV, Tes, VLL
Tasted against • KWV, The Mentors Chardonnay, Elgin, Overberg, South Africa 2012
The battle for this International Trophy was a New World affair involving two of the most renowned producers in their respective countries, the grand prize going to a fabulous wine crafted in Chile’s luminous Limarí Valley.
Standing in the sun-beaten, breathless aridity of coastal Limarí, it’s hard to imagine that this is prime Chardonnay country. And then you feel the chilly Pacific breeze on the nape of your neck, and you crumble the calcium encrustations between your fingers … and taste the wine. The unique combination of vivid, energetic purity and elegant, almost salty, savoury character suddenly makes sense. It’s a special place in delicious liquid form.
None of this is news to Marcelo Papa: winemaker, Chardonnay fanatic and Limarí evangelist. Papa has long been aware of the potential of Limarí Chardonnay and, since Concha y Toro moved into the region in 2005, he has been able to apply his knowledge and passion to excellent effect. This is primarily manifested in the Maycas del Limarí range but also elsewhere in Concha’s sizeable portfolio.
One of Papa’s pet obsessions is fine-tuning his oak on Chardonnay. I first noticed this during an intense barrel-tasting session almost a decade ago – we went back and forwards between umpteen barrels, each a minute variation on the other, Papa a cross between a fevered scientist and a kid in a sweet shop. His aim is for ever-more savoury and mineral elegance, ever less overtly oaky character. This intense, layered, salty-savoury, invigorating and superb-value Chardonnay is a validation of that work, as well as the natural bounties of the land.
Peter Richards MW