It could come as information to many Decanter readers that Peru even has a wine scene – not to mention a wealthy historical past of wine manufacturing. In actual fact, it’s the oldest wine-producing nation in South America.
The world surrounding Lima, the capital of Peru, was the place the Spanish conquistadors initially planted vines. Utilizing grape varieties from the Canary Islands, they first made wine within the sixteenth century.
Historian Carlos Buller writes in his guide Viticulture in Colonial Peru: ‘It’s probably that planting vines was one of many first issues the Spanish did on their arrival, someday within the 1530s, at completely different places throughout the territory.’
These vineyards quickly expanded southwards, primarily to Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna. This led to a golden age of wine manufacturing for Peru, when Peruvian wine was offered proper throughout South America within the seventeenth and 18th centuries.
Nonetheless, by the nineteenth century viticulture had been relegated to the sidelines. This was as a result of pure disasters: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and even phylloxera. There have been additionally financial difficulties within the type of business restrictions imposed by the Spanish crown and the necessity to plant different crops.
The surviving vineyards have been centered on producing pisco, the standard grape spirit of Peru, in addition to the favored Borgoña – a candy wine constituted of the Isabella hybrid.
However Peruvian winemakers are a proud, resilient breed. At the moment, after modernising their wineries and repurposing their vineyards with the assistance of worldwide consultants, they’re decided to shock the world with their positive wines.
They definitely have a whole lot of fame constructing forward of them. However I wouldn’t wager towards Peru…
Peruvian wine at the moment
Presently Peruvian winemakers are break up between two completely different paths, which each provide loads of potential. One path is to decide on European varieties, notably Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Tannat, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
The opposite is to go for ‘patrimoniales’, or heritage grapes which have traditionally been used for pisco. These embrace Quebranta, Mollar, Negra Criolla (Chile’s País), Torontel, Moscatel Negro del Perú, Albilla (Palomino Fino) and Italia. A few of these have been round since viticulture first started in South America, whereas others have been bred on the continent itself.
‘Producing wines from patrimoniales grapes is a option to differentiate ourselves,’ says Pedro Cuenca Espinoza, a sommelier and founding father of Perú Vino, a number one exporter of Peruvian wines. ‘Producers have realized to adapt their vines and harvest instances to acquire grapes for positive wines. At the moment, you’ll be able to take pleasure in Quebranta rosés and Italia [the Peruvian name for Muscat of Alexandria] whites, each of that are very contemporary, expressive and nicely made.’
In the meantime, Luis Gómez, head of winemaking at Intipalka – who has labored at La Celia and Bodegas CARO in Argentina – is satisfied that European varieties provide a extra promising future in Peru.
‘We now have terroirs with loads of potential to supply distinctive expressions utilizing varieties equivalent to Malbec, Syrah, Cabernet and Muscat of Alexandria,’ he says. ‘We’re not ruling out patrimoniales varieties, however our foremost goal is to indicate that Peru can produce elegant wines with a particular flavour.’
On the map
Peru has about 15,000ha of vineyards destined for the manufacturing of pisco and candy wines. However solely a small portion of this floor space is used to supply high quality grapes for dry wines.
From north to south, the viticultural area stretches from Lima, down by Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna. The entire terroirs are influenced by the Humboldt Present from the Pacific Ocean. The altitude and publicity offered by the Andes in arid areas on the northern fringe of the Pacific coastal desert can be an element.
Ica accommodates 50% of the standard vineyards of Peru and has three foremost sub-regions: Chincha, Pisco and the Ica Valley. Many of the vineyards are set at heights of between 400m and 650m above sea stage. Their deep, sandy soils are wealthy in diatomite, calcium carbonate and minerals with out a lot natural matter. The micro-climate – arid and subtropical – ensures a large thermal vary, whereas the ocean breeze cools the in any other case heat local weather.
Notable producers in Ica embrace Intipalka (Queirolo), Mimo, Ocucaje, Pampas de Ica and Tacama – a vineyard with the oldest winery in South America, relationship again to 1540. All of them make pisco in addition to positive wines from European and heritage varieties. Stand-out wines embrace Quebranta and Mollar rosés and whites from Muscat of Alexandria, Torontel and Albilla.
Areas and producers
In Chincha, Tabernero and Viña Vieja are conventional wineries producing international-class wines. In the meantime within the Pisco Valley, heritage varieties come to the fore, as evidenced by the pure wines of Bodega Murga.
The Vítor and Caravelí Valleys are the hubs in Arequipa. Each valleys boast vineyards planted at heights above 1,200m in colluvial clay soils. The Vítor Valley produces primarily Malbec, identified there as Burdeos, Moscatel Negro del Perú and Muscat of Alexandria for whites.
Paz-Soldán is the main producer within the area. Caravelí is a vital location within the historical past of Peruvian viticulture with heritage vineyards planted at heights of round 1,600 metres, the place fruit remains to be fermented in centuries-old clay vessels and flagons.
Moquegua was an essential viticultural centre within the seventeenth century, when it was often known as the ‘Bordeaux of the Americas’. At the moment, Muscat of Alexandria, Moscatel Negro, Quebranta, Syrah and Malbec are the uncooked supplies for the intriguing wines being made by the Viejo Molino vineyard.
Lastly Tacna is essentially the most southerly area in Peru with vineyards situated at round 1,200m. There’s an enormous vary of various varieties right here, as is mirrored within the portfolio of Marqués Cariñoso, a vineyard that makes use of each European and heritage grapes.
Wines from Peru to strive