Champion wines from Chile | Wine

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Viña Leyda Single Vineyard Garuma Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda, Chile 2020, £12, Tesco I have a feeling that not all that many people regard Chilean wine as the sort of thing you’d buy as a treat or for a special occasion. The country has, for as long as I can remember, been very good at providing the sort of Good Cheap Wines I was writing about in this space last week. But on those occasions when you want to break what is still for most UK wine-drinkers the psychologically powerful £10 barrier, the (sometimes spurious) reassurance of a more famously ‘fine’ wine producing region – France, Italy, but also California and Australia – tends to be the default option. Increasingly, however, I’m coming across Chilean wines that have that hard-to-define little extra that makes a wine worth shelling out a few quid more for: that bit of extra verve, complexity, character, or concentration to make them stand out from their cheaper peers. Viña Leyda’s bracing, bristling, lime and pea-pod-scented, seafood-friendly sauvignon is certainly one such wine.

Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Pinot Noir, Aconcagua Valley, Chile 2020, from£16, oxfordwine.co.uk; stonevine.co.uk; cellarselected.com Viña Leyda was one of the earliest producers to emerge from one of the most important developments in Chilean wine in the past 20 years: the rush to plant vineyards along the country’s long Pacific coastline. These vineyards have worked wonders on the quality of Chilean wines made from grape varieties that prefer cooler conditions than those that can be found in much of the traditional Chilean grape-growing regions, inland along the Central Valley south of Santiago. The cooling Pacific breezes help preserve the necessary acidity that gives the best sauvignon blancs, but also chardonnays and rieslings, their balancing lift and zip. Another of these new coastal vineyard areas can be found a couple of hours to the north of Leyda, in Aconcagua Costa, where one of Chilean wines biggest names, Errazuriz, has established a vineyard that makes some of Chile’s (and South America’s) finest, chiselled chardonnay and beautifully expressive, supple pinot noir.

Koyle Cerro Basalto Mediterraneo, Alto Colchagua, Chile 2019, £19, thewine society.com The majority of Chile’s winegrowing territory has a decidedly Mediterranean feel. But its signature grape varieties have tended to have Atlantic or northerly origins: certainly for red wines, Chile has long been identified with Bordeaux’s cabernet sauvignon, carmenère and merlot. There are delightful, and variously styled, Chilean wines made from each of those varieties, but some of the most interesting wines I’ve tasted recently have had a decidedly southern European accent. Top of the list is a blend inspired by the spicy, solar-powered, gutsy wines of France’s southern Rhône Valley and Languedoc-Roussillon, featuring mourvèdre (going by its southeastern Spanish name monastrell), grenache, carignan and syrah. It’s a wine of robust power and richness, with a seriously savoury and spicy dimension that hasn’t always been a hallmark of Chilean wine. It also has a balancing fragrant freshness that its makers attribute to another of Chilean wines recent positive moves: the development of vineyards in the relative cool on higher land in the hills.

Follow David Williams on Twitter @Daveydaibach





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