Amanda Barnes tasted 73 South American Chardonnays with five outstanding and 43 highly-recommended wines.
Entry criteria: producers and UK agents were invited to submit their most recent release 100% Chardonnay wines produced in any region in South America.
Only in the last decade has South American Chardonnay become something to get excited about. But, as this tasting reaffirmed, it really is worth getting excited about – especially at the premium end, with complex and engaging wines coming from the coast, desert, mountains and even the wind-beaten steppes of Patagonia.
This impressive surge in quality is ultimately down to the intellectual journey that South America’s winemakers have been on: from their fastidious research into the multitude of soil types and microclimates (even within the same vineyard) to a much more mature approach to winemaking and an increasingly deft hand when it comes to oak ageing.
My standout Chardonnay producers in this tasting all used oak (barrels and foudres) to frame their wines, but none of the wines were overshadowed by oak as they may have been a decade ago.
Instead, most of the top wines shone for their fruit purity and elegance.