Monday, September 25, 2017

Aila 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley

Chile stretches almost 3,000 miles in length. Although Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted grape variety by far, cool climate areas are producing classy white wines.

A Need For Balance

Around Vino-Sphere world headquarters (aka our house) our wine stash can get out of balance. We’re probably not unique. The reds, in general, can be laid down for a year, sometimes several, to reach their prime. Whites, on the other hand, aren’t usually designed to age.

As a result, the whites are chilled down and consumed before the bottle can gather any dust. In our new state of North Carolina, there has been a great deal of heat – and a crisp white refreshes more than a heavy red.
With this thought in mind, I decided I needed to add a few whites to our stockpile.

Going Down South To Chile

Seeing a Labor Day clearance sale on the Invino flash site, I spied the Aila 2015 Sauvignon Blanc from Chile  for about $11 – almost half price. I decided to pick up three bottles.

Chile is long and narrow, with a length of 3,000 miles, but rarely more than 100 miles wide. It has three major geographic divisions, Costa (Coast), Andes (for the famous mountain range) and Entre Cordilleras (between the mountains, for those areas between the low coastal range and the Andes). A number of rivers slice the country horizontally running from the Andes west to the sea.

The Leyda Valley is a zone within the San Antonio Valley in the south part of the Aconcagua region. Leyda has granite-based soils and a windy climate. It’s known for producing highly regarded white wines. That’s what caused me to pull the trigger on this trio of wines.

Aila: The Sacred Word

In the Mapuche dialect, Aila is a sacred word meaning nine. The Aila winery, in order to “balance the universe” and honor the Mapuche legacy, planted their vineyard nine miles from the coast and divided it into nine blocks of nine rows each. The winery focuses on two cold climate varieties: Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. It is an enterprise of Santa Ema wines, one of the top wineries in Chile.

With our wine properly chilled, we were ready to see if my three-bottle gambit paid off.
In the glass the wine is light yellow with an aroma of cut grass, a hallmark of Sauvignon Blanc. The body is light, but that’s where the similarity with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc comes to an end.

The flavor profile offers grapefruit and Meyer lemon. It also has an unusual and engaging aftertaste. Green Dragon and I tried unsuccessfully to categorize it.

I pulled out my Les Nez Du Vin aroma kit to try to pin it down. The winner? blackcurrant bud, although Green Dragon didn’t fully agree. It has a unique freshness, with ample minerality and a satisfying juiciness.

The verdict from me is two thumbs up. Green Dragon is still wedded to her New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, so it may take the second or third bottle to fully win her over.

We’d recommend wines from Chile, and specifically Leyda Valley, as great values and well-crafted flavors. Stock up in quantity!

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