It was Columbus who brought the first Listan Prieto grape seeds to the Americas (or, one suspects, one of his party) and the variety quickly spread, both wild and cultivated, throughout the continent. Known as Mission in California, País in Chile and Perú, and Criolla in Argentina, this grape ruled the viticultural roost in South America for hundreds of years before the arrival of French varietals in the mid-19th Century. The term Criolla actually describes a small family of ancient varietals of which Criolla Blanca, sometimes called Pedro Ximenez, is one.
This extraordinary, fascinating wine is made from 90% Criolla Blanca, fermented with native yeast in raw 5,000 litre concrete vessels for 21 days. It is aged there on its lees for 6 months and spends 8 months resting in bottle prior to release. The other 10% is a blend of Gewürztraminer, Viognier and Semillon, aged for two years in oak pipes under flor and is added when the wine is bottled as a form of ‘dosage’. Lovely notes of honey, butterscotch and candied apple on the nose; hints of flor run through nuances of citrus rind; rich and dry with incredible length.
Slightly bonkers, utterly delicious!
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