Errazuriz, Las Pizarras Chardonnay, 2017

Errazuriz, Las Pizarras Chardonnay, 2017

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    Chardonnay 100%
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    JS 98

2017 Las Pizarras Chardonnay is a superb expression of the estate terroir. Intense and multi-layered, the nose has lovely fresh citrus fruit as well as passion fruit, lemon lime, white peaches with touches of vanilla. Rich and zesty characters carry on, yet as the wine opens up the wet stone and chalky characters rise and take you to the Aconcagua Costa estate. The strong mineral background, a stamp of our Aconcagua Costa estate, balances the overall richness, giving a superb refinement. The finish is layered, very long and elegant and will age gracefully.

The grapes are hand-picked in the early morning hours to ensure the fruit arrives at the winery cool and ready for 100% whole cluster pressing. Grapes are carefully hand-sorted before being gently pressed. Whole clusters were pressed and the juice was before being moved by gravity flow into small stainless steel tanks for decanting 24 hours and French Oak barrels for 100% native yeast fermentation. 55% of blend underwent malolactic fermentation progressed slowly in the cellar until an ideal acid- balance was achieved. The wine is kept for 13 months in 100% French oak barrels, 18% of them new and 82% of second and third use.

About Errazuriz

Viña Errazuriz is a Chilean wine estate founded in the Aconcagua Valley in 1870 by Don Maximiano Errazuriz, who travelled on horseback out beyond established vineyard areas near Santiago to find the best possible terroir. By the time of the first release in 1873, the estate had over 300 hectares (740 acres) of vineyards. By 1890 this figure had risen to 700 hectares (1730 acres), making Errazuriz the largest wine estate in the world owned by an individual.

The estate's wines are popular at all price levels, but it has gained particular acclaim for its icon wines, Don Maximiano Founder's Reserve (a Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend), Seña (a partnership with Mondavi), Viñedo Chadwick (a 15-hectare vineyard on a separate Maipo estate), Kai Carmenère and La Cumbre Syrah. Their profile has been assured a series of blind tastings, starting with Berlin in 2004, pitching them with great success against wines from notable Old World producers.

The estate has seven vineyards in warmer areas of the valley planted largely to Bordeaux varieties and Syrah with some Viognier. It also owns the Costa Estate in Aconcagua's coastal region about 7.5 miles (12km) from the Pacific Ocean, where Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are also grown. There are several winemaking facilities – the original 1870 winery in Panquehue is still in use (albeit with more focus as a cellar door), and in 2010 the company opened the Don Maximiano Icon Winery, devoted to the production of top-end wines.

Grape variety

Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape variety used in the production of white wine. The variety originated in the Burgundy wine region of eastern France, but is now grown wherever wine is produced, from England to New Zealand. For new and developing wine regions, growing Chardonnay is seen as a ‘rite of passage’ and an easy entry into the international wine market.

The Chardonnay grape itself is neutral, with many of the flavours commonly associated with the wine being derived from such influences as terroir and oak. It is vinified in many different styles, from the lean, crisply mineral wines of Chablis, France, to New World wines with oak and tropical fruit flavours. In cool climates (such as Chablis and the Carneros AVA of California), Chardonnay wine tends to be medium to light body with noticeable acidity and flavours of green plum, apple, and pear. In warmer locations (such as the Adelaide Hills and Mornington Peninsula in Australia and Gisborne and Marlborough region of New Zealand), the flavours become more citrus, peach, and melon, while in very warm locations (such as the Central Coast AVA of California), more fig and tropical fruit notes such as banana and mango come out. Wines that have gone through malolactic fermentation tend to have softer acidity and fruit flavours with buttery mouthfeel and hazelnut notes.

Chardonnay is an important component of many sparkling wines around the world, including Champagne and Franciacorta in Italy.

Chardonnay's popularity peaked in the late 1980s, then gave way to a backlash among those wine connoisseurs who saw the grape as a leading negative component of the globalisation of wine. Nonetheless, it is one of the most widely planted grape varieties, with 210,000 hectares (520,000 acres) worldwide, second only to Airén among white wine grapes and fifth among all wine grapes.

Chardonnay lends itself to almost any style of wine making from dry still wines, to sparkling wines to sweet late harvest and even botrytized wines (though its susceptibility to other less favourable rot makes these wines rarer). The two winemaking decisions that most widely affect the end result of a Chardonnay wine is whether or not to use malolactic fermentation and the degree of oak influence used for the wine. With malolactic fermentation (or MLF), the harder malic acid gets converted into the softer lactic acid, and diacetyl which creates the "buttery-ness" that is associated with some styles of Chardonnay. The wines that do not go through MLF will have more green (unripe) apple like flavours. Oak can be introduced during fermentation or after in the form of the barrel aging. Depending on the amount of charring that the oak was treated with, this can introduce a "toastiness" and flavours that many wine drinkers mistake as a characteristic of the grape itself. These flavours can include caramel, cream, smoke, spice, coconut, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla.

Other winemaking decisions that can have a significant effect include the temperature of fermentation and what time, if any, that the wine allowed to spend aging on the lees. Burgundian winemaking tends to favour extended contact on the lees and even "stirring up" the lees within the wine while it is aging in the barrel in a process known as bâttonage. Colder fermentation temperatures produces more "tropical" fruit flavours like mango and pineapple. The "Old World" style of winemaking favours the use of wild, or ambient yeast, though some will also use specially cultivated yeast that can impart aromatic qualities to the wine. A particular style of yeast used in Champagne is the Prise de Mousse that is cultivated for use worldwide in sparkling Chardonnay wines. A potential drawback of using wild yeast is that the fermentation process can go very slow with the results of the yeasts being very unpredictable and producing potentially a very different wine each year. One Burgundian winemaker that favours the use of only wild yeast is Domaine des Comtes Lafon which had the fermentation of its 1963 Chardonnay batch take 5 years to complete when the fermentation process normally only takes a matter of weeks.

The time of harvesting is a crucial decision because the grape quickly begins to lose acidity as it ripens. For sparkling wine production, the grapes will be harvested early and slightly unripe to maintain the acid levels. Sparkling Chardonnay based wines tend to exhibit more floral and steely flavours in their youth. As the wine ages, particularly if it spends significant time on lees, the wines will develop "toasty" notes. Chardonnay grapes usually have little trouble developing sugar content, even in cooler climates, which translates into high potential alcohol levels and limits the need for chaptalisation. On the flip side, low acid levels can be a concern which make the wine taste "flabby" and dull. Winemakers can counteract this by adding tartaric acid in a process known as "acidification". In cooler climates, the extract and acidity of Chardonnay is magnified which has the potential of producing very concentrated wines that can develop through bottle aging. Chardonnay can blend well with other grapes and still maintain some of its unique character. The grapes most often blended with Chardonnay include Chenin Blanc, Colombard and Sémillon.

Due to the "malleability" of Chardonnay in winemaking and its ability to reflect its terroir, there is not one distinct universal "style" or set of constants that could be applied to Chardonnay made across the globe. According to Jancis Robinson, a sense of "smokiness" is one clue that could be picked up in a blind tasting of Chardonnay but there are many styles that do not have any "smoky" notes. Compared to other white wine grapes like Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer and Viognier-Chardonnay has a more subtle and muted nose with no overwhelming aromatics that jump out of the wine glass. The identifying styles of Chardonnay are regionally based. For example, pineapple notes are more commonly associated with Chardonnay from Napa Valley while Chablis will have more notes of green apples. While many examples of Chardonnay can benefit from a few years of bottle aging, especially if they have high acidity, most Chardonnays are meant to be consumed in their youth. A notable exception to this is the most premium examples of Chablis and white Burgundies.

Alternative Names: Morillon, Pinot Chardonnay, Feiner Weisser Burgunder

About Aconcagua Valley

The Aconcagua Valley is a wine-producing region of Chile, located 60 miles (100km) north of the capital, Santiago. It was long thought that this hot, dry valley was not suitable for growing wine grapes – the Chilean wine pioneer Don Maximiano Errazuriz was ridiculed when he planted his first vines here – but the quality of the region's modern-day Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot has robustly reversed this opinion.

The winery started by Errazuriz dominates the area but has been joined by other producers of note. 'Sena', a wine produced as a joint venture between Vina Errazuriz and Robert Mondavi, came second at the 2004 Berlin Tasting, ahead of wines from Italy and France. It is grown in a single vineyard with a unique mesoclimate at the heart of the Aconcagua Valley.

The Aconcagua Valley takes its name from the eponymous river flowing through it, which in turn is named after the 22841ft (6962m) Mt. Aconcagua at its eastern edge. This Andean giant, whose name means 'stone sentinel', is the highest mountain in the Americas and directly contributes to the terroirs found in the valley below.

Measuring around 60 miles (100km) in length, the valley runs between the slopes of the Andes in the east and the Pacific Ocean in the west. Many wine-growing areas are closely linked to the river and follow its course as it brings fresh meltwater (and mineral-laden silt) down from the Andean peaks to the valley floor. This topography, common to many of Chile's wine-growing areas, means that vineyard altitude in Aconcagua varies from 3300ft (1000m) in the east to 160ft (50m) in the west. It also creates a distinctive climatic characteristic: as the warm, dry land of the region heats up during the afternoon, the hot air in the east rises rapidly upwards, sucking in cooler air from the Pacific Ocean to the west. This process is reversed as the land cools down in the evening. These daily breezes moderate the otherwise high temperatures found in the Aconcagua Valley and reduce the risk of vine disease. The Antarctic 'Humboldt Current' which flows up the west coast of Chile helps to maintain this effect.

The Aconcagua Valley lies at a latitude of 32°S (the equivalent latitude in the northern hemisphere crosses through northern Africa and the Middle East), and it is thanks to the climatic and geographical conditions described above that quality wine can be produced in the Aconcagua Valley.

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