Five great Chardonnays from around the world

Following a comparative blind tasting in London last October, we bring you five great Chardonnays from five great wine-producing nations.


Important to the quality of Chardonnay is not just the range of flavours, but how well they knit together

What makes a great Chardonnay? This is something we have often debated at the drinks business during our large-scale Global Chardonnay Masters competitions, and it seems that top-end Chardonnay needs to have the following: ripe yellow fruit balanced by a fresh lemon-tasting finish; a slightly oily palate weight, but a total absence of sugar; complementary – not dominant – vanilla and toast flavours from fermentation and ageing in high quality French oak, and a salty, sometimes smoky element, that provides added complexity.

Important to the quality of Chardonnay is not just the range of flavours, but how well they knit together, along with the balance – no one character should overwhelm, and structurally, it’s important that Chardonnay, even if made in a rich, ripe and textural style, refreshes the palate.

Finally, the characters in the wine should linger in the mouth long after the wine has been swallowed, and the Chardonnay should have the potential to improve with age.

While many of the Chardonnays we recommend on stem from our Global Chardonnay Masters, where Masters of Wine select the best wines blind from a sample of more than 200 wines from an extremely wide range of locations, for this list, we bring you five wines that are meant to be the best Chardonnays from their respective countries: Australia, France, South Africa, Italy and the US.


The Chardonnays were served blind to buyers and somms at Asia House in London on 5 October

They were chosen by Jackson Family Wines for a Chardonnay Masterclass hosted by this company and ourselves, and the Chardonnays were served blind to around 50 of London’s top wine buyers and sommeliers at Asia House in London on 5 October.

All of the wines were from the 2013 vintage.

The aim of the blind tasting was to present Capensis – a joint venture from Jackson Family Wines and Graham Beck with one goal in mind: to make South Africa’s best Chardonnay.

For more on Capensis and the masterclass see the December issue of the drinks business. Over the following pages you can read the tasting notes on the wines in the order they were presented, or click here to see the list of wines that featured. Approximate UK retail prices have also been included. 

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