With an open mind, observing an example of successful grape-growing can often be an object lesson in humility and contradiction. To stand in awe of the work done to craft the wine in front of you is humbling in the best of ways: from such extremity of condition as befits one of the most southerly, heavily-rained-on winemaking regions of South America emerges one of the purest examples on the planet of the heritage of Chilean terroir. Roberto Henríquez the accredited enologist, agronomist, organic consultant with a world-tour of apprenticeships and study under his belt (incl. at Domaine Mosse in the Loire!), works with over 200+ year-old vines (!!!!) of País on the cool, hilly exceptions of the Bio Bio Valley – a departure from the more exposed higher-elevation vineyards north or the more lowland, marshlike topography to the west. In his own words, “the southern frontier [is] considered the origin of Chilean wine…[and] País vines are an integral part of the history, culture, tradition and character of Chilean terroir.” Utilizing traditional vinification techniques, grapes are hand-harvested, destemmed, open-fermented in enormous lagars (large foudres of Raulí Beech wood), foot-stomped, and fed by gravity into Pipas – the aging vessels also of Raulí Beech wood from which Pipeño gets its name. His are wines that get better vintage to vintage ever since founding this independent label in 2015 – and what a rare treat this bottling is: País in all its southerly purity and glory.
Tasting: This is one of the purest, most complex and sumptuous expressions of País we’ve ever tasted, from Roberto Henríquez of southern Chile’s Bio Bio Valley. Important note: Decant this wine! Or alternatively, give it a shake after opening. The nose is reductive at first (think burning rubber), and this ethereal wine needs a moment to breathe and settle into itself. Once it does, you will be rewarded with a wild but gorgeous mix of aromas: eucalyptus, mint, currant, iron. The flavor profile and palate is light and grippy, tart and sweet like a plumb. A bit smoky. You might notice a pleasant chalkiness that blankets the tongue at the very end. Serve chilled.
Vinification: 100% País hand-harvested from 200+ year-old vines grown on alluvial soils at gentle, rolling foothills outside Nacimiento, 800m from the Bio-Bio river. Spontaneous fermentation with ambient yeasts (no temp. control) occurs in lagars before élevage in pipas over the course of 12-18 months. Unfined, unfiltered, minimal SO2 at bottling.