I only recently learnt that Leyda (as in Chile’s Leyda Valley) means ‘the way’; significant because the blue train station that is depicted on the certain labels of Viña Leyda wines was the last stop for trains travelling from Santiago to the Pacific Coast.
The label is more than a subtle clue to the coastal location of this up-and-coming Chilean wine region and, if recent tastings are anything to go by then it would seem that the way for Leyda wines is, most emphatically, up!
Leyda is specifically a wine-growing sector of San Antonio that is in turn a sub-region of the Aconcagua D.O. [And they say that the French make things complicated].
Vine growers are attracted to coastal climates in hot countries because there’s a moderating influence on temperatures that allow the grapes to ripen fully over an extended period of time. It’s also a golden opportunity to produce crisp, dry, mineral whites that are nigh impossible to deliver in warmer climes.
Viña Leyda is a well-established winery in the Aconcagua and they have done a sterling job of producing some of my favourite Chilean whites.
The first — and very well known — is their Sauvignon Gris Kadun Vineyards (£10.95 www.greatwesternwine.co.uk) a salty, mineral white with lime zest and pink grapefruit aromas.
I see that it’s widely lauded as an excellent choice of wine to drink with lobster or langoustine . . .
If, however, you are aiming for a more economical summer break try it with mussels instead.
Equally, pop into Marks & Spencer and buy a bottle of Secano Estate 2010 Sauvignon Gris (£8.49) that is an excellent wine of very similar style from the same winemaker as the Kadun Vineyards. If Sauvignon Gris is a little too pungent for you and you’d rather stick to our faithful friend, Sauvignon Blanc, then you’ll be glad to hear that it’s not in short supply in Leyda Valley.
I am particularly fond of the Costero (£7.59 if you buy two bottles from www.majestic.co.uk or £9.49 for one) that is full of nettles and fresh cut green grass.
From Viña Leyda again comes the generously fruity El Viento Pinot Noir 2008 (£7.95 www.greatwesternwine.co.uk) that represents very good value for a grape variety that is both notoriously fickle and that can be disappointing at such a reasonable price.
Another steal is the Costero Syrah 2009 (£7.59 for two or £9.49 for one from www.majestic.co.uk) that delivered one of the most glorious mouthfuls of black hedgerow fruit and spice that I have had at this price for a very long time.
There’s a good sprinkling of spice too and a freshness that keeps all that exuberance in check.
So, it’s three cheers for the Leyda Valley and if they continue to deliver wines of such quality and these very respectable prices, I expect to see many more of them.