Chilean Sauvignon Blanc on the Rack

Was this the worst Decanter panel tasting ever?

Maybe that’s over-stating things a bit.

It certainly was heroically underwhelming. Dispiriting, even.

Of 62 Chilean Sauvignon Blancs from £8-30, only 10 wines broached the 90-point threshold. More than half scored a lacklustre 85 points or less. No ‘Exceptional’ wines. No ‘Outstanding’ wines.

One taster commented, ‘When filling in my tasting notes as to when best to drink each bottle, for many wines I was tempted to write, “Never!”

Many wines simply lacked personality, intensity and charm. Sauvignon Blanc should be thrilling, captivating, exciting. At the very least moreish, gluggable and fun. Far too many proved to be little more than over-priced hogwash.

By way of context, it’s true to say that two thirds of the wines in this tasting were from the very challenging 2017 vintage. And there were some (relative) high points, including a few elegant bottlings from the north.

Chile is better than this showing. Given what’s happening on the ground, Sauvignon will be a key forté for the future. But in order to ensure this happens on a widespread basis, many growers need to radically change the way they grow and make their Sauvignon Blanc in Chile. In short, they need a kick up the bum.

At the very least, it’s to be hoped that this tasting proves a motivation for change.

[Peter Richards MW’s report on the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc panel tasting appears in Decanter magazine’s October 2018 edition]

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