From £11.49, €13.35, 100 Danish krone, CA$19.95, 17.50 Swiss francs, 6,100 Hungarian forints, 3,660 yen
Wine competitions guarantee quality in the same way that politicians guarantee integrity. A certain degree of blind faith is required – especially because there's often no alternative.
At the recent Mercardo Chileno tasting of Chilean wines in London, a collection of international medal-winning bottles had been grouped together. In theory, this should represent the most impressive examples of Chilean wine in the market. Then again, parliament should represent the most impressive examples of politicians. In theory.
As a tasting, it was mostly middling. The vast majority were conventional, safe and unexciting wines. But among them lurked one particular standout: a single-vineyard 2015 Sauvignon Blanc from the Aconcagua coast, made by Errázuriz. This wine won the 'Best Sauvignon Blanc under £15' category at the Decanter World Wine Awards – a hard-contested category, which perhaps on this occasion vindicates the wine-show system.
We featured the 2011 Chardonnay from this range as a wine of the week here in 2013, and the 25 tasting notes we have for Errázuriz wines from the Aconcagua coast have an average score of 16.5 – an impressive result.
All this defensive justification is making me sound like a politician now – and let me be absolutely clear about that – so let's move on. What is the wine actually like?
Its best quality, I think, is a strong sense of place. So many New World Sauvignon Blancs have an identical fruit profile, often dosed with residual sugar, that quickly becomes boring. They may achieve mainstream popularity, like so many politicians – but that doesn't make them great dinner guests. This wine has a distinctive and delicious flinty character that gives a much more interesting dimension to the palate. It's tempting to think of this as an expression of terroir – but Jancis's note on the wine from September 2014 states:
'Very different from the previous vintage and tasted just after bottling in London with winemaker Francisco Baettig. In 2014 he deliberately chose the lots with less obvious fruit (which went instead into Max Reserva) and instead favoured those exhibiting a more reductive character.'
Perhaps then, the primary aromas are more reflective of winemaking than origin, but that hardly matters when the finished result is so enjoyable. There is plenty of punchy green-apple fruit in accompaniment, and impressive persistence on the finish. The varietal characteristics are loud and clear, but there is much more to this wine than most generic Sauvignon Blancs can offer. Furthermore, it is well distributed around the world (Wine-searcher.com lists at least nine different countries) and at just over £10 it is undoubtedly a good buy.
Vote for change. Vote for progress. Vote for Erráruriz Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. Thank you.