Pipeño Carrizal Blanco
He may be a native Burgundian, but Louis-Antoine Luyt has quickly become a seminal voice in the fight for independent, terroir driven winemaking in Chile. In a country where wine production is run almost entirely by enormous industrial wineries, L.A has managed to source fruit and rent vines from independent farmers throughout the Maule Valley. Furthermore, his insistance on dry farming, horse plowing, organic viticulture and native yeast/intervention free winemaking are welcome proof that wines outside of Europe can successfully be produced with this work philosophy.
The newest project is the Pipeño line. Pipeño is derogatory slang for peasant wine, usually made with the Paìs grape. Here L-A highlights unique terroirs and farmers: each bottle sports the name of a sub-region, and is either purchased fruit he’s vinified or finished wine made by the farmer. The fermentations take place in traditional, open-top lagars (vats), and are made in the light, easy drinking style typical of what the farmers produce for their everyday consumption. All of Louis-Antoine’s Pipeños come in one liter bottles, and are of extraordinary value for the quality.
After much deliberation, Louis-Antoine and his wife have decided to move back to France for their family, marking yet another massive shift in the Luyt saga. Starting with the 2018 vintage, the viticulture and winemaking has been fully entrusted to the farmers Louis-Antoine has formed the strongest links with over a decade of collaboration. In such, the name of the farmer is prominently featured on the back labels of each different Pipeño bottling. Louis-Antoine travels to Chile at key moments of the season, including harvest time, the early stages of vinification and bottling to lend a helping hand with his expertise. He then buys the finished wines from the farmers in a négociant model.
Though there are always side projects and new wines (he really can’t help himself), the Pipeños are now the main focus of the Luyt wines. Taking heed of past experience with the project, Louis-Antoine has come to accept that the the primeur-style, ultra-natural approach to winemaking that works incredibly well when served right from the tank in Chile sometimes needs a little TLC before exportation. In such, he has started setting simple, helpful guidelines for the farmers, like purchasing stainless steel tanks to rack the wine after fermentations and, if deemed necessary, slightly filtering the wines at bottling. Sulfur, which was not always added, will now be standard in very small doses at bottling.
Farmer: Ernesto Soto. Mainly Torontel + Corinta (Chasselas) + Cristalina (Semillon) + Muscat d’Alexandria from organic, dry-farmed bush vines ranging from 100 to 200 old on deep, sandy, clay soils rich in decomposed granite on a flatter parcel in the Carrizal sub-zone of the Maule region. The bunches are harvested by hand and manually destemmed using a traditional zaranda; fermented spontaneously with indigenous yeasts in open wooden lagares; macerated for 3 weeks with the skins; and aged briefly in wooden tanks called pipas (from which the name “pipeño” is derived). The wine receives a very small amount of sulfur and a gentle filtration before bottling in liters.
Site and the lengthy maceration distinguish the Carrizal from the Portezuelo white. The Carrizal is comes across as richer–everything about the wine is golden, from the color to the honey-caramel-golden apple flavors and aromas—with more weight to it as well. There is a slightly phenolic feel that gives a gentle bit of structure to the wine, but the finish is still clean, not viscous at all, and dry.