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Viña Ventisquero unveils wines made with ‘heritage grapes’

Published:  06 November, 2017

Chilean producer Viña Ventisquero has added three new wines to its portfolio, two of which are made with ‘heritage grapes’.

The launch of Viña Ventisquero’s Reserva Pais Moscatel (rrp: £9.99), a Pais and Moscatel blend, is the result of 10 years experimenting by head winemaker Felipe Tosso and consultant John Duval.

Claiming to be the only winery in Chile to produce this blend, Tosso said they had discovered the Pais grape benefitted from being co-fermented with around 15% of Moscatel in old oak foudres.

“Pais and Moscatel were the first two varieties to arrive in Chile some 500 years ago from Tenerife and they are pretty much obsolete now in central and northern Chile, with just some small growers in the extreme south producing the grapes in many instances from vines around 80-100 years old,” said Tosso, adding “this really is Chile”.

The second wine produced with what Tosso refers to as ‘heritage grapes’, is the Queulat Cinsault 2016 (rrp: £12.99), which is made with Cinsault - originally introduced into Chile to help plump out the Pais.

“The plantations of this grape in the Guarilihue vineyards in Itata are effectively living history - they date back to colonial times and the bush vines here are between 80 to 100 years old and dry farmed,” said Tosso.

The three small growers Viña Ventisquero buys grapes from for the Queulat Cinsault 2016 were paid up to five times the going rate for their fruit to encourage a “quality-driven approach to farming in the vineyards”, he added.

“This is a rustic grape but we’re 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.”

In addition to the rare duo, Viña Ventisquero has added a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile’s most northerly vineyards, owned by VV up in the Atacama – the world’s driest desert, to its Grey portfolio (rrp: 14.99).

“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 8 months in third use old oak vats,” said Tosso.

Founded in 1998, Viña Ventisquero is fortunate to own vineyards in some of Chile’s key wine producing regions.

Australian winemaker John Duval, ex Head Winemaker for Penfolds’ Grange, has been working in partnership with Felipe Tosso for over a decade to produce the flagship wines Vertice and Pangea from Apalta, and Enclave from Maipo Alto.