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Maule Valley, Chile

Vina Maitia is a small family winery owned and operated by husband and wife team David Marcel and Loreto Garau. David Marcel is a French vigneron from the Basque Country. He met Loreto, a Chilean enologist, while in Chile and decided to move there in 2007. In Chile, Loreto owns the wine store Petit Plaisirs in Santiago while Marcel brokers grapes and wines. Their customers encouraged them to make wine, and thus, in 2012, the two set out to make simple, easy-drinking wines called pipenos. Loreta Garau explains, "What excited us about pipenos - and what excites a lot of people - is the return to drinking something simple, without anything artificial or tricked out." Pipeno is an old style of Chilean wine that was produced in a simple manner and meant to be enjoyed by peasant farmers. While pipeno does have a reputation as a quaff some folks drink like water, David and Loreta believe pipeno is a Chilean wine tradition worth preserving. Thanks to Vina Maitia and other wineries, the pipeno has begun to gain recognition.

Vina Maitia is located int he Maule Valley, about 300km south of Santiago. This valley benefits from a sub-humid Mediterranean climate where high temperatures int he summer are cooled by the breeze from the Humboldt Current in the Pacific Ocean. This cool air helps to extend the growing season and allows for wines with bright, fresh acidity.

The estate has 10 hectares of very old bush vines of Pais (Mission grape), Carignan and a few other grapes. Some vines are over 120 years in age. These old vines are the remnants of Chilean ancestry. All over Chile, Pais has been replanted with international varieties like Merlot and Chardonnay. However, David and Loreta see the opportunity to make wines of place while helping to preserve Chile's viticulture heritage. The vines are dry farmed,which is possible in the Maule Valley because of the winter rains. The wines are made with low sulfur, native yeast and neutral barrels,s o that the terroir really shines through.