Chile making ‘best’ Chardonnay in New World12th August, 2013 by Lucy Shaw
Chile is now making the “best” Chardonnay in the New World according to one of the country’s top winemakers.
Speaking to the drinks business, Adolfo Hurtado, chief winemaker at Cono Sur, said: “I’m really confident about Chilean Chardonnay. No other New World country has the unique growing conditions for Chardonnay that we boast.
“Our lack of rain, large amount of sunshine and low nighttime temperatures allow the grapes to ripen really slowly and retain their freshness, concentration and acidity.
“The Chardonnays being made in Chile’s coastal regions are truly terroir driven. The fog from the Pacific Ocean lends the grapes a salty, sea air element that you can actually taste in the wines – they have a lovely savoury edge to them.”
While Hurtado believes that Chile makes the best Chardonnays in the New World, he also thinks highly of many coming out of California and New Zealand.
Lacking the aromatic complexity of Sauvignon Blanc, Hurtado admits that making a show-stopping Chardonnay is a challenge.
“Chardonnay is quite a neutral grape so most of the excitement is on the palate. To make a good Chardonnay you have to look for complexity over fruit expression.
“While it doesn’t offer the instant satisfaction on the nose that Sauvignon Blanc gives, if handled well, Chardonnay can reach higher heights in terms of elegance and finesse and when it’s really good, no other white grape can touch it,” he said.
Having suffered a bit of an image problem in recent years, Hurtado believes Chardonnay is coming back into fashion.
“It used to be the queen of the grapes, then people looked for something new. But a new generation of fresh, mineral Chardonnays are coming up through the ranks that are really turning heads,” Hurtado told db.
In line with consumer tastes, he has evolved his top Chardonnay, 20 Barrels, in recent years, in pursuit of the holy trinity: freshness, minerality and complexity.
The wine spends 10 months in 100% new French oak, which is softened for a month with a salt water solution, and undergoes no malolactic fermentation.
Hurtado believes that the future for Chardonnay lies in the wine world’s coastal regions and the pursuit of freshness and purity of fruit.
“Rather than being wines to lay down, the new generation of Chardonnays are best enjoyed young, while their freshness is still locked in,” he said.
Hurtado’s comments come ahead of the drinks business Global Chardonnay Masters competition, which takes place in September.
Presided over by a panel of Masters of Wine and Master Sommeliers, rather than being judged by country, each Chardonnay is assessed by style and price.
Those interested in entering the competition can do so here. The deadline for entries is 13 September.