The second annual World’s Best Vineyards awards was meant to reveal its winners in a designated ceremony on the Californian coast, but instead has had to announce 2020’s top 50 online.
The selection process is impressively refined, and entries are nominated by 500 aficionados from an international voting academy. To ensure a representative sample, the world is divided into 18 geographical regions, with 36 connoisseurs from each.
Notable entries include the South African Delaire Graff Estate, which at 19 snapped up ‘Best in Africa’ and ‘Highest Climber’, the Château Mercian Mariko Winery in Japan, which clocked in at 30 despite only opening in 2019, and the eye-popping Marqués de Riscal Winery in Spain, which snagged sixth spot and was designed by fabled American architect Frank Gehry.
None, however, could quite crack the top five. These are the world’s best wineries, according to experts around the world.
1. Zuccardi Valle de Uco, Argentina
Topping the list for the second year running, this jewel of the Uco Valley stands out for its distinctive malbec, bonarda, and cabernet franc, carefully curated in vineyards 1100m above sea level. The limestone winery seems almost hewn from the mountainside, and the judges were particularly taken with resident restaurant Piedra Infinita Cocina, which serves up seasonal pairings alongside panoramic views of the Andes.
2. Bodega Garzón, Uruguay
Lots of people associate Uruguay more with football than wine, but this extremely high end, $85 million vineyard-resort is helping the country’s wine region step steadily out from the shadow of southern neighbours Argentina and Chile. Judges singled out this winery’s innovative reds, its array of extracurricular activities (everything from horse riding to hot air balloons), and the firepit cooking of Patagonian celebrity chef Francis Mallmann.
3. Domäne Wachau, Austria
The top finisher from Europe, which enjoyed a resurgence following a poor showing in 2019, Domäne Wachau is almost as appealing for historians as it is for oenophiles. Set in a Baroque castle in the UNESCO-listed Wachau landscape, the winery produces a third of all wine from the region while refusing to sacrifice quality for quantity. Once run by monks, the vineyard is now one of the world’s finest purveyors of expertly cultivated indulgence.
4. Montes, Chile
We’re back in South America for number four, and the rolling vineyards of Chile’s Colchagua Valley. Tranquillity is the order of the day at Montes, with 400 hectares of native forest, a design that closely follows the principles of feng shui, and, of course, its flagship full-bodied reds. A somewhat quirky establishment, their vino matures to the sound (and more importantly, vibration) of Gregorian chant.
5. Robert Mondavi Winery, California
Crowned Best in North America, this storied vineyard has been competing for awards since the mid-1960s, and rounds out our list with its beguiling selection of cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc. When the winery was founded, Robert Mondavi wished to make wines in California that would match the very finest in France. Given that no French vineyards managed to make the top five, he seems to have succeeded.
Are you surprised at the results? Have you tried any wines from these vineyards? What’s your favourite wine?
– With PA
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