Viña Leyda, Leyda Valley   
Exploring Chile's diversity, part 2


The El Granito vineyard

Viña Leyda is, in my opinion, one of Chile’s most exciting producers. I spent half a day here, beginning with a tour of the newly planted El Granito vineyard, just 3 km from the coast, followed with lunch and a tasting of the full range. 

Gustavo Llona

We were shown round by managing director Gustavo Llona, who, along with the Fernandes family, was the original owner of Viña Leyda from its inception in 1997. After a decade, in 2007 Viña Leyda was acquired by Viña Tabalí, which itself is owned jointly by the San Pedro group and Guillermo Luksic (50%), but they wisely retained Gustavo and the rest of the production team. We also met with winemaker Viviana Navarrete, and viticulturalist Ignacio Casali. 

Ignacio Casali in a pit

Viña Leyda is the pioneering winery in the Leyda region of Chile. The original vineyard, which was planted in 1998, was both the region and the vineyard. The greatest challenge facing Gustavo and his team was getting water out here, and this required the construction of an 8 km pipeline. 

The original vineyard is on a 113 hectare property, with 87 hectares planted. Because the vineyards are on the west (sea-facing) side of the coastal mountain range, nothing blocks the maritime influence, so it’s quite a bit cooler than nearby Casablanca, on the other side of the hills. 

The sea is visible from here

The initial results Leyda got (first vintage 2001) alerted others to the potential of this infant region, and it has grown fast. Now there are more than 900 hectares of vines. But without water, you simply can’t plant here, which explains why there’s a five-fold difference in land prices with or without water rights. There’s plenty of space for further growth, but water is restricting this. 

The climate here is consistently cool, with average daily maximum temperatures of 23.5 °C in January and February. Also, these maximum periods are quite brief. The soils are stony, alluvial and free draining with a high clay component.

Viviana Navarrete, winemaker

The new vineyards  at El Granito are even cooler, by about a degree, due to the proximity of the ocean, which can be viewed from the property. There are 90 hectares here, and the idea is to plant 75 ha. So far, 62 hectares have been planted. The majority of the plantings are new clone Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, a bit of Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Gris. Vines are planted both grafted and ungrafted.


Tasted at the winery, December 2010:

Viña Leyda Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Leyda Valley
A blend of clones: 1, which is austere and structured, 242 which gives tropical fruit but is a bit short, and 107 which is more green/citric and has length. Yields 9 ton/hectare. Very fresh and bright with a piercing citrussy nose. The palate is pure and fruity, transparent and crisp, and shows lively acidity. Lovely precision. 90/100

Viña Leyda Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Garuma 2010 Leyda Valley
Just clone 1, harvested 7 tons/hectare, with 12 h skin contact. Very pure and precise with some grapefruit freshness and just a hint of greenness. Real purity and elegance with some mineral notes. 91/100

Viña Leyda Single Vineyard Sauvignon Gris Kadun 2010 Leyda Valley
Quite powerful and citrussy with some smoky intensity. The palate is herby and intense with some citrus notes as well as melon richness. Powerful and broad with some spiciness. 90/100

Viña Leyda Reserva Chardonnay 2010 Leyda Valley
Very fresh and lively with notes of grapefruit and citrus. Pure with lovely freshness and minerality. 100% stainless steel, no oak. 88/100

Viña Leyda Single Vineyard Chardonnay Falaris 2009 Leyda Valley
This is made from juice cleaned with enzymes at 300 NTU, from fruit from an east facing vineyard cropped at 6 tons/hectare. Lovely toasty, citrussy nose is very fine with bright fruit and real precision. Lovely nut, honey and toast edge to the ripe peach and pear fruit. 91/100  

Viña Leyda Lot 5 Chardonnay 2009 Leyda Valley
Southwest facing vineyard, made in an oxidative style without clearing the juice. No malolactic. Sophisticated with fine toast and nut notes on the nose, leading to a palate showing broad, nutty, spicy, toasty flavours. Rich but fresh. Rounded and harmonious, with some peach and pear notes and mineral finish. 94/100

Viña Leyda Costero Riesling 2010 Leyda Valley
Fresh, lemony, limey nose. Fine with some crystalline fruit and spice notes. The palate is fresh and bright with lemony notes and lovely precision. Subtle pithiness and flinty notes too. pH 2.98, 25g/l residual sugar. 88/100

Viña Leyda Single Vineyard Pinot Noir Rosé Loica 2010 Leyda Valley
Pink fruity and fresh with nice bright cherry fruit and good acidity. This is a successful attempt to make a serious rosé, with juice cleaned to 120 NTU and fermented cold after a short maceration. There’s some richness here, but it’s food friendly. 88/100

Viña Leyda Single Vineyard Pinot Noir Las Brisas 2009 Leyda Valley
Very bright, fresh and vibrant with cherry and raspberry fruit. Precise and fresh with a bit of meaty, spicy character. 90/100

Viña Leyda Single Vineyard Pinot Noir Cahuil 2009 Leyda Valley
Fresh, vibrant black cherry fruit nose. Some elegance on the palate: berry and cherry fruit dominate. Nice intensity. 93/100

Viña Leyda Lot 21 Pinot Noir 2009 Leyda Valley
Dense but really elegant with nice full red cherry and berry fruits. Elegant, minerally and precise with a nice savouriness. Beautiful fruit quality and good tannins: a serious wine. 95/100

Viña Leyda Costero Syrah 2009 Leyda Valley
Syrah was planted here in 2005. Picked at 5 tons/hectare in the middle of May. This entry level version is berryish, vivid and bright with notes of olive, meat, pepper and medicine. The palate is vivid with white pepper and spice notes. A lovely edgy, vibrant wine. 90/100

Viña Leyda Single Vineyard Syrah Canelo 2008 Leyda Valley
5.5 ton/hectare. Refined, pure, intense blackberry and black cherry fruit with good concentration and nice pepperiness. Bold, powerful, grippy and edgy this is a delicious wine with real personality, and I love it. 93/100 

Older notes from September 2009:

Viña Leyda Lot 21 Pinot Noir 2008
Very aromatic nose of sweet, fresh berry and cherry fruit with a subtle greenness. The palate has lovely bright pure red fruits with a berryish edge. Subtly herby, but pure. 91/100

Viña Leyda Lot 5 Chardonnay 2008
Very rich, broad, elegant nose – nutty, mealy and taut, with rich fruit. The palate is similarly broad with lovely bold nutty notes and sweet fruit, but despite the size it is still balanced and fresh. 92/100

Viña Leyda Single Vineyard Pinot Noir Las Brisas 2008
Lovely stuff: pure, bright and fruity. Very bright aromatic, floral red berry and cherry fruit nise. The palate shows lovely bright fresh berry fruit with some spicy complexity. Stylish and elegant. 90/100

Viña Leyda Single Vineyard Pinot Noir Rosé Loica 2009
Deep pink in colour. Very fresh bright aromatic nose is youthful and pure. The palate shows bright cherry fruit with lovely focus. Delicious. 88/100

Viña Leyda Single Vineyard Syrah Canelo 2007
Fresh, floral cool climate Syrah nose of dark fruits with some spice and pepper. Lovely purity and focus. The palate shows fresh, peppery dark cherry and raspberry fruit with a hint of meatiness. Lovely definition. 91/100

Viña Leyda Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Garuma 2009
Taut, fresh nose is bright and aromatic, leading to a palate with warm, rich tropical fruit combined with grassy freshness. Rounded and textured with a chalky, spicy finish. 90/100 (this is stocked by Waitrose in the UK at £8.99)

Viña Leyda Single Vineyard Chardonnay Falaris Hill 2008
Lovely complex nutty nose. Broad but rich palate with focus and complexity, showing nutty, toasty notes and good acidity. 91/100

Viña Leyda Single Vineyard Sauvignon Gris Kadun 2009
Aromatic and bright with a touch of greenness. The palate is richly textured with sweet melon and pear fruit as well as some spiciness. Lovely richness here. 91/100

Viña Leyda Single Vineyard Riesling Neblina 2008
Beautifully aromatic, limey nose with some sweet, rich, spicy notes. The palate is rich and spicy with intense, herby, limey notes and some honeyed richness. 90/100

Viña Leyda Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Lovely bright aromatics: fresh, focused, nicely green and chalky. The palate is fresh and bright with lovely vibrant, expressive fruit: lemon, pear, grapefruit and a bit of peach. 89/100

Viña Leyda Reserva Chardonnay 2008
Distinctly nutty, lemony fruit here. Nicely textured with some richness. Fresh and fruit forward with some personality. 88/100

UK agent:


Part 1, Dos Andes: Veranda and Agustinos, Bio Bio
Part 2, Viña Leyda, Leyda
Part 3, Viña Ventisquero, Apalta
Part 4, Viña Tabalí, Limarí
Part 5, Casas del Bosque, Casablanca
Part 6, Viña Falernia/Mayu, Elqui

See also:

Visiting Chile's wine regions (a series from a visit in 2008)


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