Vina Ventisquero highlights Chilean heritage grapes with its latest additions
Vina Ventisquero is launching three new wines, two of which are made from Chilean ‘heritage grapes’.
The trio includes a Reserva Pais Moscatel (rsp: £9.99), a Queulat Cinsault 2016 (rsp: £12.99) and a Grey Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (rsp: £14.99).
Pais and Moscatel were the first two varieties to arrive in Chile, around 500 years ago from Tenerife. The varietals are mostly obsolete now in central and northern Chile, but there are still growers in the extreme south who are producing these grapes; many of these are from vines around 80 to 100 years old.
Head winemaker, Felipe Tosso, said: “These old vines are survivors. And the only way to preserve this heritage is to carry on making wines from them. This is really Chile!”
Tosso and consultant John Duval (ex head winemaker for Penfolds’ grange) began exploring the Maule and Itata regions in the deep south of Chile for Pais ten years ago. VV’s new Reserva Pais Moscatel, is the result of their experimentation with this grape, which they discovered benefited from being co-fermented with around 15% of Moscatel in old oak foudres. It is the only winery in Chile to produce this blend.
Cinsault was originally introduced into Chile to help plump out the Pais. The plantations of this grape in the Guarilihue vineyards in Itata date back to colonial times and the bush vines here are between 80 to 100 years old, and are dry farmed.
Tosso said: “This is a rustic grape, but we are not rustic winemakers. We harvest a bit earlier as we want to retain the fruit but we don’t want to make a soft wine.”
New to the Grey range is a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile’s most northerly vineyards, owned by VV up in the Atacama, the world’s driest desert.
Tosso explained: “I like my Sauvignon Blancs to have minerality and texture and discovered that I can get this from our grapes in the Atacama by ageing the wine on its lees for around eight months in third use old oak vats.”