The re-birth of Chardonnay

Competition Director, Chris Losh, looks at a stellar performance from Greece in SWA 2017 and the return of an old favourite.

For me this was a year where we saw two big stories: the stellar lift-off of a much-loved, but mysteriously underrated country, and the storming return of a favourite old grape variety.

The stand-out country performance in 2017 came from Greece. It’s not a large producing country, and we don't get a huge entry, so its performance of 7 Golds and 5 Silvers was astonishing. That combination of 12 top medals was the same as Germany and more than Austria.

More than just the number of medals, however, was the feedback from the tasters. Whenever our sommeliers had finished a flight of Greek wines (particularly the whites) they had a huge smile of their face. Characterful, food-friendly wines at affordable prices – we should be seeing a lot more of these on lists over the next year.

The ‘returning old favourite’ was Chardonnay. After five or six years when Sauvignon Blanc ruled the roost, the last couple of years have seen something of a Chardie fightback, and this year it really hit its straps.

Nor was the strong performance limited to one region: from Stellenbosch to Savigny we saw big numbers of top medals this year. For the New World, South Africa and Australia were particularly strong, but this was also a big year for France, with Burgundy and Chablis both racking up big numbers of medals.

With 24 Golds, evenly split between the Old and New World, it’s clear that there’s probably more good wine from this grape than ever before.

 

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