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Louis Antione Luyt and Clos Ouvert

The Chilean wines we know and love (or hate) tend towards the chunky style big fruit juicy flavours, viscous, soft tannins, easy without food etc etc.  Now introducing Clos Ouvert!  I could say that these hand crafted bottles are the antithesis of everything you know about Chilean wine but that is not totally true.  The Carmenere is typically full bodied, rich in fruit flavour with a note of mocha and spice, but its added freshness is made all the more appealing by the knowledge that the wine hasn't been acidified like most Chilean Carmenere.
But it is with the little known and marvellous Pais grape that maverick French wine maker Louis-Antoine Luyt has made a serious name for himself and really turned the Chilean wine rule book upside down.  This light coloured red grape was until the turn of the century the most plented in Chile.  Thought to have been brought to the Americas by the conquistadors in the 16th century, Pais (otherwise known as Negra Peruana, Criolla Chica in Argentina or Mission in California) is mainly a jug wine grape produced in the traditional Chilean Pipeno (big vat).  It is vigorous and easy to grow so you get plenty of cheap rustic plonko to quaff back slightly chilled whilst on the beach.  But tucked away on the sloping hills of Cauquene region in the Maule valley, there are some vines of Pais that are 300 years old!  The age controls their natural vigour, the roots have burrowed deep, and the vines are farmed following biodynamic principles.  The resulting fruit - which Louis-Antoine pays four times the price of the big companies for, to encourage good practise amongst small farmers - is of outstanding quality and the wine is fascinating and delicious!

There are various expressions from different vineyard locations with the prefix Huasa, a traditional name for the wife of a cowboy in Chile.  Trequilemu 2012 is smokey and wild with notes of tobacco, sweet berry fruit and wild strawberry.  At the 2 Michelin star L'Enclume, it is magnificently paired with a carpaccio of venison with charcoal oil and mustard dressing, a match made in gastronomic heaven!  The Hausa 2011 is less smokey with slightly more body, both intriguing and approachable.  Quenehuao 2011 is from different soils again and the wine is more structured with firmer tannins and will age longer.  In fact we have a few bottles of 09 Quenehuao left which we are putting into our mixed Clos Ouvert explorers case so you can compare vintages and taste the development of the wine.
Louis-Antoine believes in showing Chile a new future for wine production.  One that is not dominated by the big corporations but instead promotes small scale farming, high quality and Entrepreneurship.  He is a Frenchman who has embraced his local culture and society.  He has had his setbacks, in 2010 he lost almost his whole production and just escaped with his life during the terrible earth quake which hit Chile that year and killed several hundred people.  But he is a Maverick at heart, he learnt natural wine making under Marcel Lapierre in Beaujolais and his wines are getting the attention of winos across the world, even Jancis Robinson likes them (What Jancis thinks about Primavera).
So give them a try, we are offering a mixed half dozen at a fantastic low price so you can have get a taste of the NEW CHILE!