Katherine Donnelly: Experiment the safeway
How do you go about selecting your bottle of Chilean wine? Variety or valley? On the one hand, you can explore what Chile has to offer by fixing on a favourite grape. Your pocket and personal preference will be the final deciding factors.
If I was to do it by red grape, my focus would be on Syrah and Carmènere, which are bringing Chile's reputation to a new level.
There's plenty more, including Cabernet Sauvignon, juicy Pinot Noirs. Among the whites, there are Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
Or is it more your thing to explore the diversity another way and meander through the valleys?
Today, I'm in Leyda Valley. It doesn't produce a huge amount of wine, but it's worth keeping an eye out for. Close to the coast, it produces wines of balance, freshness and elegance, predominantly from its star varieties, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.
The Leyda Valley also provides an excuse to mention Sauvignon Gris, which also goes by the name of Sauvignon Rose. It tends to produce wines of concentration, strong on aromatics. So, it's an interesting twist for those who like safe experiments.