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I continue to my coverage of my recent gastronomical press trip to Peru. This time, I would like to comment on my recent live experience with some of the Peruvian wines that I had the pleasure to taste in this trip.

Although Peruvian gastronomy is becoming one of the most sophisticated in Latin America, the growth of its national wine industry has not experienced the same pace. There may be several reasons for this phenomenon, the most important being a social and historical factor.

In general, Peruvian are not wine drinkers. They prefer other drinks primarily with their meals such as beer, soft drinks or chicha. However, this state of affairs might be changing as economic conditions are changing in Peru. According to Wikipedia, Peru is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies with a 2012 GDP growth rate of 6.3% It currently has a high human development index of 0.741 and  a per capita GDP above $12,000. Walking in Lima, you can see the examples of growth in their economy. Infrastructure public work, condominiums projects and the restaurants full than ever before in any weekday day. More money also means a more affluent class and this means access to the finer things of life such as wine.

Photo: Marco Giovanetti

Photo: Marco Giovanetti

My first encounter with Peruvian wine was with the local grape Quebrada. This is a very particular grape since it is only grown in Peru. It is produced by Jose Moquillaza. With this grape, he produces a fine red wine, Quebrada de Ihuanco. There is also a pisco distilled from it called inquenbrantable.

The setting of this encounter was at the prestigious restaurant Central restaurant in the hip district of Miraflores.  During a tasting menu, I asked the sommelier Joseph Ruiz Acosta to surprise in a blind tasting with different wines. One of the wines was the Quebranta in disguise.

The Quebranta grape is a natural offspring between the grapes Criolla and Mollar brought by the Spanish conquerors in the year 1540. By prohibitions of the Spanish court in the XVI century, they stopped making wine out of the this grape and they decided to concentrate in Pisco. Now, Peru is resuming the tradition of making wine from this grape.

Quebrada de Ihuanco is a wine that is born from very mineral soilds consisting of Quartz and Granite. The grape is grown in San Juan de Ihuanco, in Cañete . Vinification is very natural and there is no wood intervention to allow to express the primary fruit aromas and flavors of the Quebranta grape.

The grape has gained popularity because its wine has appeared in some on the wine lists of some of the top restaurants of the world, including La Central and El Celler de can Roca.

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The sommelier Joseph Ruiz Acosta, holding a Quebranta bottle in the cellar of La Central

Judging by the colour of the glass, I was sure i was in Pinot Noir territory. Then, the olfactory and taste analysis drove me in another direction. The nose was very perfumed, reminiscent of lots of red berries, ripe to an almost form of jelly or jam…much like a Pinot Noir from the central valley. Then came a blast of floral nuances: dry petal roses, violets, white daysis leaving at the end an animal nuance more like dry meat. At this point, I was going definitely into Jura territory. Poulsard maybe. The mouth was ripe and very balanced. Fresh with nice mineral tones. A mosaic of red fruits complexity that i have never seen before in any wine. Some blackcurrant and earth character with incense notes. It was more like an electric Poulsard.

At this point, I gave up. BOOM!!!, came the surprise when Joseph told me that what i was drinking was a local wine. At that very moment, my peruvian wine horizons expanded.  The Quebranta proved to be very food versatile with the many courses of the tasting menu of La Central.

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Altitude tasting menu at La central

This is a still low production operation. In 2012, Mr Moquillaza along with his partner produced around  480 bottles. In 2013 they made around 1,000 bottles and in 2014 close to 2000 bottles. In conclusion, the Quebranta grape is destined to be the national grape of Peru.