2018 Cacique Maravilla Pipeno Pais 1L
Region: Yumbel < Bio Bio Valley < Chile
Grapes: País (aka Mission)
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Biodynamic farming, no irrigation; volcanic soil; fermented in cement then rests in fiberglass vats before bottling; no added SO2; 12.5% ABV
Winemaker: Manuel Moraga Gutiérrez
NEW VINTAGE ALERT! Natural wine from Chile? Yes! Manuel Moraga Gutiérrez, who sports the long, wavy mustache depicted on this bottle’s label, is the seventh generation of his family to work this vineyard in the small town of Yumbel, about 300 miles south of Santiago. His vineyards are on a type of volcanic ash soil, unique to the region, called trumao. His Pais vines, over 250 years old, were brought by his ancestors from the Canary islands and originally planted by his great-great-great-great-grandfather Francisco Gutiérrez, who arrived from Spain in 1766 and quickly earned the respect of the local Mapuche tribe, who called him Cacique Maravilla. Manuel, who has been farming his 30 acres biodynamically for 25 years, used to make wine just for his family to drink, selling off most of his grapes, but in 2010 started bottling wines to sell under the label Cacique Maravilla. Now we can all enjoy this lovely 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. While it looks light, it has more structure and body than most of this genre. Savagely drinkable, and a total bargain. Drink with chili.