Published on September 18th, 2013 | by James
Are Peruvian wines the next big thing?
The UK is a country which has historically and repeatedly embraced wine from new regions. The next big name we need to be aware of? Well, we think it’s Peru. Peruvian wines are poised to make a big impact over here, with wines giving much of the fruity sucker-punch of New World wines from countries like Australia, without being devoid of the elegance of the Old World.
There are around 11-15,000 hectares of vineyards and five different vineyard regions in Peru: the North Coast, the Central Coast, the South Coast, the Andean Sierra and the Selva.
The shifting temperatures and constant humidity of some Peruvian wine regions provide exceptional conditions for the vines to grow.
Ever heard of Peruvian wine?
The coastal region of Peru is desert, and according to Drinks Business, “The best vines are grown in these fertile irrigated areas, which benefit from the cool currents of offshore air that rise up into the vineyards.”
This does beg the question, why have we never heard of Peruvian wines before?
Ironically, Peru has a wine-producing history which spans back to the 16th Century.
The history of Peruvian wine
As you might imagine, it was the Spanish conquest which brought the first grapevines over to Peru in the 16th Century, most notably in the Ica valley of South-Central Peru.
Bolivian miners were the first main market for Peruvian wine; in fact, Potosí miners’ salaries were partly paid in wine. Peruvian wine growers also supplied the city of Lima, which was important politically in South America at the time (up until the 17th Century).
An early end for Peru
But this was not to last. In 1687 an earthquake in Peru destroyed many of the country’s wine cellars and containers. This, combined with shifting vineyard ownership leading to a loss of expertise and the rise of pisco helped lead to the decline of Peruvian wine. (Pisco was also made from grapes, but turned into brandy, so it got you drunk quicker. Some people have no class.)
By the late 18th Century, 90% of Peruvian grapes were being turned into Pisco rather than wine. A Spanish lift on the ban of rum production turned things from bad to worse for Peruvian winemakers, as this was even cheaper than Pisco. I guess it’s just a good job Thunderbird wasn’t around at the time as well.
After this, Peru started to import wine from Chile. During the American Civil War, (1861–1865) new blockades created a fresh demand for Peruvian cotton – and so cotton fields replaced vineyards. For some time, Peru was finished as a wine-producing country.
Fast-forward to the 21st Century, and things have changed. Even the Chileans agree. Adolfo Hurtado, chief winemaker of Cono Sur – the second biggest wine brand in Chile after Casillero de Diabolo - said: ”Peru has the same high altitude and ocean influence as Chile; I’d love to make wine there.
“It has no frost and in many parts is desert-like and dry, the same as northern Chile. It’s such an interesting country with great wine-making potential.”
With what could be a clarity of expression wrought with a poor grasp of English vernacular, Rude Wines’ UK-exclusive Intipalka range proclaims on its labels a climate of “Desert weather with large thermal amplitude.” We think this desert-like quality can produce wines of great depth. But what do you think?