2018 Luyt Pipeno 'Portezuelo' 1L
Region: Maule Valley < Chile
Grapes: País (aka Mission) + 5% Cargadora (aka Cinsault)
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming, dry-farmed, 250- year-old own-rooted vines on sandy, granitic soil at 2400 foot elevation, fermented in traditional open-top vats called ‘lagares’, then spends 2 months in large, old wooden casks; bottled unfined/unfiltered with no added SO2; 378 cases; 11.5% ABV
Winemaker: Luis-Antoine Luyt
Burgundy native Louis-Antoine Luyt has become an important voice in the fight for independent, terroir-driven winemaking in Chile. In a country where wine production is run almost entirely by huge industrial wineries, Luyt has managed to source fruit and rent vines from independent farmers throughout the Maule Valley. He insists on dry farming, horse plowing, organic viticulture and native yeast/intervention free winemaking, and makes the only line of Chilean wines following the European model of using the same varietal to highlight different terroirs. Each bottling of his Pais (the grape also known as Mission, not generally used to make quality wine) is named after a specific vineyard parcel or “lieu-dit”, each with its own soil composition, exposition, elevation and micro-climates. Chile escaped phylloxera, so the vines are very old and still on their original rootstock.
Pipeño, an old name for the simple local wine farmers used to make, which typically is vinified as naturally as possible (wild yeast, no additions of any kind, minimal sulphur), and bottled young, in big bottles. It was the dodgy stuff gauchos and farmers used to guzzle from a gallon jug, but now it’s the juice cool sommeliers drink. And for good reason: herbal, rustic, smoky, slightly cloudy, earthy and dark-fruited, and joyously presented in 1L bottles. This 'Portezuelo’' bottling is from 150-200 year old vines on granite and clay in the relatively cooler, damp Bio-Bío region. Its light, juicy and earthy (think: if Gamay and Frappato had a baby...) with a hint of the grape's wild personality and firm tannin structure showing through. Savagely drinkable, and a total bargain. Drink with chili. So energetic and poppy on the palate, it’s the wine you wish would be at the bar on a Saturday night, because it’s light and fun, and you could drink it all night long without getting bored. Tastes like cold-pressed sour raspberries, crunchy red cherries, dusty earth and Sour Patch kids. Sounds strange, but it totally works. And it comes in a LITER bottle. Delicious party juice!