Friday, 9 August 2013

Chilean Beaujolais!? You're Taking The País! (get it?)

- By Joe Mandrell

I love Chilean wine. Love it. Not only is Chile a rich source of very high quality wines at amazingly good prices, there is always something interesting to discover. Take this Miguel Torres Reserva de Pueblo Cepa País, 2012, for example. I stumbled across this quite by accident at a recent tasting, and its fruity, juicy, cheeky charm warmed my steely, aloof heart.

País is the grape variety here. It’s known by various other names across the Americas – mission by the Yanks and criolla chica by the Argentines. It was probably the first variety brought to Chile by those crazy Spanish Conquistadors in the 16th Century. It’s mostly used in the production of cheap, bulk wine. However, this example is so much more than that.

This particular País is made using a technique called carbonic maceration, which is famously used in Beaujolais. This is a cool winemaking trick where alcoholic fermentation takes place inside the grape. Usually, fermentation involves crushing the grapes to release all the juice and then letting them intermingle with the pulp, seeds and grape skins for a while – soaking up all the tannins which are found in these parts of the grape. But with carbonic maceration, grapes aren’t crushed, so the juice doesn’t get to hang out with the skins and seeds in the same way. It therefore produces wine that is low in tannin, but is light and has an amazing fruit character.

This is exactly what you find in the Miguel Torres País. It is stacked full of juicy red fruit – raspberries and cherries and some strawberries too. It also has an interesting, almost pinot noir-esque savoury vibe. A little hint of spice rounds it off perfectly.

If you come across a País in the shops, wipe it off and apologise please give it a try.

Have you ever tried País before? We'd love to know. Comment below or on our facebook and twitter pages.

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