Torres champions underdog País

In a bid to flag up underdog local grape País, Miguel Torres Chile has released a País red blend made from old bush vines onto the UK market.

Made from over 100-year-old certified Fairtrade vines from Cauquenes in the Maule Valley, Torres Reserva de Pueblo, Cepa País 2012 has been taken on by The Wine Society, with an RRP of £7.50, with a special screwcap bottling for the UK.

Around 70% of the 12% abv wine undergoes carbonic maceration to draw out its fruity characteristics, enhance colour and soften the tannins.

“País has a very thin skin so it gives little in the way of colour or tannin, making it hard to produce a good quality red wine from it, but we’re very happy with the result,” Torres winemaker Leonardo Devoto Magofke told the drinks business.

Toby Morrhall, Chilean buyer for The Wine Society, who brought the wine to the UK, describes Reserva de Pueblo as being “similar to a Beaujolais” in style.

While Devoto Magofke agrees with the comparison, he believes the wine’s higher acidity means it has better ageing potential than a Beaujolais.

Thought to be genetically identical to Listán, a grape indigenous to the Canary Islands, País (also known as Mission) was brought over to Chile by the Spaniards in the 1550s and has until recently been predominantly a workhorse grape used for bulk wine production.

However, wine writer Tim Atkin MW believes Torres’ effort shows “another side” to País, describing it as “bright and juicy, with notes of raspberry, red cherrry and a hint of pepper spice.”

Around 3,000 cases of the inaugural vintage of Torres Reserva de Pueblo, Cepa País have been made, with production expected to increase this year.

Torres has already championed País in the form of pink fizz Santa Digna Estelado Rosé, dubbed by the producer as: “the first truly Chilean sparkling wine”.

Launched in 2011, the traditional method pale pink sparkler, made from grapes grown in Cauquenes, is aged on the lees for six months.

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