I’m just coming off the back of a really enjoyable evening meeting a fella called Felipe Tosso. He’s a Chilean winemaker, responsible for the wines at Ventisquero, wines that are soon to be even further available throughout the UK, so do keep an eye out. We had a focused tasting and talk through three wines he’s particularly proud of, all three were joyous to drink, but one in particular is one I wanted to write a quick blog on. Some wine-o’s will have heard of it, some won’t, it’s from a wine grape called Pais.
Pais came over to Chile 500 years or so ago with the Spanish, the grape originating from the glorious island of Tenerife. It was one of the first grapes to be planted in Chile, but for one reason or another was left behind in Chile’s international wine boom of the last few decades.
Guys and girls like Felipe are started to see what it can do, enjoying the brave new world of Pais that let’s them come up with a new rule book of their own for production of the wine. In fact, his blend of 85% Pais 15% Muscatel was, relatively speaking, an accident. They had too much Moscatel to fit into one tank, so they popped it in with Pais. As with everything in life, it’s better to be lucky than good (although Felipe is damn good at his job, and he clearly knew what he was doing!), as the lift that the orange blossom of the muscatel gave to the smell of this wine was absolutely immense.
I also loved the stories of how they find new grapes. It’s funny, you don’t hear about this a lot, but Chilean grape growers have apparently pulled about 25% of their vines in recent years as prices were not sustainable. It’s now flipped the other way. Guys like Felipe who look to buy in grapes are finding it harder to find the volumes they need. He recounts stories of driving on family holidays, spotting someone with Pais in the back garden, and just knocking on the door and asking if he can have the grapes. I just love the image of that.
So here’s to Pais and the winemakers playing around with it. Looking forward to what they come up with next!