Vina Leyda Chardonnay 2015
Pair with chicken curry, tuna tartare, or shrimp risotto.
Leyda is an innovative winery, that discovered and developed a new viticultural region of Chile: Leyda Valley. Pioneers in cool, coastal viticulture, Leyda is amongst the most awarded wineries in Chile, and is internationally recognized for their Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. Also dedicated to using the latest technology to analyze every detail of the region, their ongoing research ensures that each variety performs to its maximum potential. The state-of-the-art equipment with a diverse selection of barrel types ensures that Leyda consistently produces some of Chile’s most expressive, highest-quality wines. The most distinguishing characteristic of Leyda is its location. Nestled in the rolling hills of Chile’s coastal mountain range, in its namesake Leyda Valley. Just eight miles from the Pacific Ocean, the area has a distinctly cool, maritime climate with moderate, rainy winters, dry summers and a unique influence from the sea. Sea breezes and ocean mist carried by the Humboldt Current have a tempering effect on the otherwise hot summers of this latitude. Evening fog moves into the vineyards and dissipates in the early morning, with clear days, lots of sunlight and low relative humidity. These climate characteristics allow grape ripening to take place at a slower pace, prompting a robust development of aromas and fruity flavors, and ensuring a perfect balance of sugar and acidity in the wines. Planted on rolling hills with low-nutrient, loamy-clay soils, the Leyda vineyards are ideal for producing small yields of concentrated grapes. Within the vineyard, the architecture, density and irrigation levels are constantly adjusted to attain the perfect ripening conditions for each variety. The winery uses the most modern equipment for wine production, including pneumatic presses, gentle pumps and a temperature interchange system for both grapes and must. The cellar has 56 stainless steel tanks of varying capacities, each with temperature control systems. This diversity allows Leyda to separate different lots, and then classify the various components for final blending. The winery uses 70% French and 30% American oak barrels, from the world’s most respected coopers and works with different oak styles to obtain more complexity and elegance in its wines.
An officially recognized sub-zone in the southern part of the San Antonio Valley, the Leyda Valley was the original settlement of the wine pioneers who came to the area in the 1990s. They were in search of cooler and wetter growing conditions—as compared to more eastern, drier and often warmer locations.
Planting, which began only in the late 1990s, focused on Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot noir and some limited spots for Syrah. The area continues to receive well-earned accolades for wines of these varieties.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While practically every country in the wine producing world grows it, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. As far as cellar potential, white Burgundy rivals the world’s other age-worthy whites like Riesling or botrytized Semillon. California is Chardonnay’s second most important home, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia and South America are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay flavors tend towards grapefruit, lemon zest, green apple, celery leaf and wet flint, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of melon, peach and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut and spice, while malolactic fermentation imparts a soft and creamy texture.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with flaky white fish with herbs, scallops, turkey breast and soft cheeses. Richer Chardonnays marry well with lobster, crab, salmon, roasted chicken and creamy sauces.
Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. In Burgundy, the subregion of Chablis, while typically employing the use of older oak barrels, produces a similar bright and acid-driven style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy its lighter style.