You may have noticed that we have a new attractive one-liter bottle on our shelves, in the South American section of the Reds. This is a Chilean wine that’s . . . not very Chilean. There’s a cool story behind it.
Louis-Antoine Luyt hails from France, and at the age of 22 he decided to get outta dodge and learn some Spanish. So, he went to Chile and started working as a dishwasher in a restaurant. Eventually, he took charge of the wine list there, and started getting more and more into wine as he studied more, with the help of the country’s only master sommelier.
Fast forward to the Aughts; Luyt is back in Chile, after working for some of the best natural winemakers in France, and he’s partnered up with a few investors to start a winery. But this won’t be just any winery; having seen that most Chilean wine is made in bulk, from conventional (non-organic) vineyards and with a lot of manipulation in the cellar so the wine tastes boring and homogenous, Luyt’s goal is to make a different kind of Chilean wine. Meaning, organic vineyards, indigenous grapes, no nasty chemicals, and the end result: a fresh, bright, lively wine that reflects terroir.
But 2010 was not a good harvest year for Chile. You may recall that there was a hugely destructive earthquake, in February – right when grape growers are about to pick their crop. Many vineyards were destroyed, including the ones Luyt hoped to source his grapes from. In response, his investors backed out, seeing no way to do what they had planned. But he refused to let go of his dream, and frantically searched until he found some vineyards to work with. That’s when Luyt found the vineyard with vines over 100-years-old that he uses to make the Pipeño; he pulled it together and made the wine, and kept the project alive.
The Pipeño is a whole liter of goodness, made from the red grape País, for just $20. We love it on its own, but it’s a perfect food wine that could be great as you hibernate. Come and get it!
— words by Rachel Signer