A Los Vinateros Bravos 2020 'Volcanico' Pais, Itata, Chile

A Los Vinateros Bravos 2020 'Volcanico' Pais, Itata, Chile

A Los Vinateros Bravos

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A Los Vinateros Bravos 2020 'Volcanico' Pais, Itata, Chile

  • Winemaker: Leonardo Erazo
  • Farming: Biodynamic
  • Variety: Pais, own-rooted, up to 150 year old vines
  • Terroir: pure volcanic soils over granite bedrock forged hundreds of millions of years ago underneath the earth's surface. Dry-farmed.

 Bottle Club Notes from January 2021:

If you’ve been inside DECANTsf, you’ve seen the “RAW Wine” tags we have hanging from the necks of bottles on the shelves. This is a little signal to our guests who are looking for quality natural wines- Raw Wine is a global wine festival that aims to create guidelines for the nebulous “natural wine” term, and when Cara went to the Los Angeles fair in 2019, she really fell in love with the mission. We only mention this because this winery, A Los Vinateros Bravos, is a RAW Wine producer, and he really embodies the organization’s message.

Leonardo Erazo is more than a winemaker, he’s a researcher, an agronomist, and in some ways, a historian. We are in Itata, a chilly coastal region in Chile’s far south. With origins dating back to the 16th century, when the Itata Valley was first settled by Spanish Conquistadors, who brought along their own grape vines. The 16th century. European Grape Vines. In reality, its from here that the European wine grape proliferates through the Americas, as the Spanish moved north, colonizing and setting up Missions along the Pacific Coast, so moved the variety Paìs, also known as ‘The Mission Grape’, which was planted at settlements all the way from Itata Valley, Chile to Santa Rosa, California to make both sacramental wine as well as to quench the thirst of soldiers.  Because of this historic start, by the 19th century, Itata Valley was actually the center of Chile’s wine industry. But as populations began to grow in northern cities like Santiago, the major wine industry moved as well into northern inland areas where serious Bordeaux varieties could grow easily and in higher volumes on warm, nutrient-dense soil. This is a far cry from the cold, rugged, coastal landscape which millions of years of volcanic activity forged.


So where does Leonardo Erazo fit into this history? Well, as we’ve established, this man is part winemaker, part soil researcher, and part historian. He has found families who have been dry-farming old, original vineyards of this Paìs grape - these are not laboratory clones, just a vine variety that has adapted to its environment for more than 400 years on this volcanic bedrock. Some of these vines may very well be the oldest in all of Chile, as the soils here are too hostile for the root louse Phylloxera, which decimated vineyards in both the Old and New World as it attacked the European rootstocks. Since there is no phylloxera, these are “own-rooted” vines, meaning the rootstocks and the vine are the same plant, reaching 150 years old (and Leo says certain parcels  of vines could even date back 300 years). This is nearly unheard of in any part of the world, but it's just one piece of the puzzle that makes southern Chile a fascinating region to watch. 

Note the light body, then scents of "Chilean garrigue" which comes from the forest influence that surrounds all the vineyards, and the absolute history of centuries-old winemaking in the glass. Leonardo barely has to touch this wine- most of it is “made in the vineyard”, and he allows it to ferment spontaneously, and ages it in old oak vats. 2020 is the current release (remember, in South America, their fall harvest is what would be our springtime).


 Paìs may never meet the stardom it once had (in California, the Mission Grape was the most-planted variety up until the late 1800s), but it holds a place in the Hall of Fame for being one of the most consequential varieties in wine history. Don’t let wine marketing fool you, this is what ‘natural wine’ means.


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