Chile’s Sauvignon Blancs are probably its vanguard in Ireland and the UK – the first experience that many wine drinkers will have of wines from Chile. They are widely available in supermarkets, independent merchants and everywhere in between; they offer plenty of bang for the buck and are nearly always inexpensive. But – and it’s a big but for me* – they don’t often offer elegance or anything out of the ordinary.
However – and that’s an equally big however – of the many wine regions in Chile, one is currently head and shoulders above the others for quality Sauvignon Blanc (and Pinot Noir) – the Leyda Valley. The shift from Casablanca has really paid off. Here’s an example I tried recently that hit the spot.
Disclosure: sample was kindly provided for review, but opinions remain my own
Undurraga Sibaris Gran Reserva Leyda Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (13.5%, RRP €13.99 at Reids Off-Licence, Enniscorthy; Fine Wines Group; Martins Off-Licence, Fairview)
Undurraga is one of the bigger wine companies in Chile but has been in family ownership since it was founded in 1855. They have 2,500 acres of vineyards in the Maipo and Colchagua valleys (the latter encompasses Leyda). The winemaker for the Sibaris range is María del Pilar Díaz whose experience includes doing vintages in Marlborough, so she is the perfect person to make Sauvignon Blanc.
On opening, the nose is a mix of tropical and citrus fruits, with a herbal twang. These notes follow through onto the palate and are fleshed out with some fennel and mineral character. This is a fresh wine but with some texture. It would be great as an aperitif or with seafood, but is elegant enough to be enjoyed on its own. A superior Chilean Sauvignon but still inexpensive.
*Yes, I like big buts