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2014 Pais, Huaso de Sauzal

2014 Pais, Huaso de Sauzal

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This is only the second bottling of Chile's great historic grape, widely scorned and re-planted to international varieties in the boom export years (even Renán's university professors dismissed it as 'S**t!'), but the elders in these parts explained it just needed careful attention. Renán harvests in cooler Secano, with less rich soils, preserving acidity and preventing over-cropping. The finest example I have tried; fascinating wine - 'for the dinner table, not the terrace', as Renán puts it.
Deep, savoury nose - Barolo-like combination of dark, stewed fruit and balsamic notes, with a realy savoury feel. The palate is lighter; purer Rioja-like red fruit, earthy and coffee-scented, spicebox and black pepper notes. Perfect for grilled meat - lamb would be ideal.

Renán Cencino is a well-known viticulturalist in his native Chile (working for De Martino, amongst others), but this latest project is more than simple work - he is trying to recreate the winemaking that his father's generation practiced in the sleepy backwater of Sauzal in Maule, part of a larger movement in the country to challenge the brand-dominated, commercial production culture. His father ran a store in the town, and they had a large port-treading lagar out the back to ferment the local grapes, and though Cencino jnr. later progressed to modern techniques, when the 2010 earthquake hit he reverted to non-electrical (!) means and found the wines were actually better; Huaso de Sauzal was born.

The amazing vines at Huaso de Sauzal are up to 300 years of age (Chile, of course, remained phylloxera-free), are unsprayed, with no use of sulphites during the winemaking process. De-stemming is done manually using bamboo tools, fermentation still takes place in outside lagares, using only natural yeasts; even the pressing is done using rocks to gently extract the juice. These are truly fascinating, 'pure' wines that taste like nothing I have tried from South America and beyond.

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    Huaso de Sauzal
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  • Food Suggestions:
    Red Meat
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