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27 May 2011

Chile: Leyda

I remember tasting wines from Viña Leyda, the winery, back when nobody had heard of the Leyda Valley and people had just started talking about Chile's new cooler climate coastal regions lying, in this case, to the west of Santiago (and just south of the perhaps better known Casablanca valley), let alone other new areas further north e.g. Limarí, Elquí. Leyda was set up in 1997 and was the driving force behind creating a name-sake sub-region in 2002 (this could get confusing...). They've been busy since then too, as the estate now comes to nearly 250 hectares (towards 700 acres) of mostly 'cool' varieties as per my tasting notes below.

Anyway, those lingering positive impressions from almost ten years ago were more than bolstered when I sampled Leyda's award-winning wines at the London International Wine Fair recently. Their varietal whites and rosé (made from Pinot Noir) are great and deserve all this attention; and the Pinot reds are all quite different and sumptuously good in their own ways. Glad I bumped into Leyda again. All wines tasted below are from their vineyards in the Leyda Valley unless stated, i.e. one of their Syrahs from somewhere else. I’ve used my ‘new’ scoring system of one, two or three ‘ticks’ (good, very good, fabulous); or just plain 1 to 3 here. UK stockists include Great Western Wine, see £ retail prices below; their US importer is Winebow: winebow.com.

Single Vineyard ‘Loica’ 2009 Pinot Noir rosé – tight fresh structured style vs creamy and subtle red fruit cocktail, concentrated even with steely finish; lovely. Winner of “Best Rosé” trophy in the 2011 Wines of Chile Awards. 2 (£10.95)

Single Vineyard ‘Neblina’ 2009 Riesling – aromatic with oily “kerosene” tones, mineral notes on the palate with tight crisp length, turning oilier and more complex on the finish. Gold medal winner & “best other whites” trophy. 2 (£10.95)

Single Vineyard ‘Garuma’ 2010 Sauvignon Blanc – fresh piercing asparagus and grapefruit, zesty crisp and mineral, very long. “Best value white & best Sauvignon.” 2 (£10.95)

‘Lot 5’ 2009 Chardonnay – toasty buttery notes/flavours vs again steely tight and structured mouth-feel, ending up quite fine showing rich vs greener fruit and long flavours. Gold medal. 2-3 (£15.50)

‘Reserva’ 2010 Pinot Noir – delicious PN style with attractive ‘sweet/savoury’ mix, lively vs silky texture. 1-2 (£9.95)

‘Cahuil Vineyard’ 2010 Pinot Noir – spicy vs silky perfumed style, nice lively crunchy fruit with tight fresh finish. 2 (£14.45)

‘Las Brisas’ 2010 Pinot Noir – tasty tangy berry vs perfumed floral fruit, concentrated ‘sweet/sour/savoury’ palate combo, quite intense and tasty finish. 2-3 (£12.75)

‘Lot 21’ 2010 Pinot Noir – rich and intense floral berry fruit, very tight and fresh mouth-feel with lovely panache. 2-3 (£22.50)

‘Reserva’ 2010 Syrah (Colchagua Valley) – pure spicy herbal notes vs hints of chocolate, tight vs textured with lively dark cherry fruit. Needs a couple of years. 2

‘Canelo Vineyard’ 2008 Syrah – very different wine with meaty ‘animal’ edges vs spicy pure black fruits, grainier coconut texture with punchy vs tight finish and wilder touches on its great length. 2-3

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.