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A sommelier talks Peruvian Pisco: Part 2

best pisco, how to make pisco, pisco harvest

 

 

This is part 2 of a series of interviews with Fernando Gonzales-Lattini, a sommelier specialized in pisco, vigneron and producer of premium wine in the Peruvian Andes.

In your opinion, what makes Peruvian pisco special?

“Pisco is unique because it comes from very high-quality, aromatic organic material: grapes. Compared to other liquors made from grains or potatoes, grapes are so much more aromatic and flavorful in their raw form. The single distillation method used to make Peruvian pisco also allows the full gamut of flavors and aromas to show up in this high quality spirit.

I am a sommelier and I own my own vineyard. Needless to say, I love wine. I think pisco should be appreciated like a fine wine. There are more than 300 descriptors for wine. When you distill wine to make pisco, you concentrate those flavors and aromas even more. The terroir of the vineyards should also be appreciated in every bottle.”

 

What do you want the world to know about Peruvian pisco?

 

“People need to try this premium spirit. I guarantee they will be impressed, especially if they are wine-lovers. I can’t emphasize enough the parallels between the two. Just like wine, one can distinguish the characteristics of different grape varieties, vintages, and terroir of pisco. It also pairs beautifully with food.

Tradition is also very important in Peru. We have been making pisco for hundreds of years, which has many benefits. First, we have traditions passed on from generation to generation. Second, we have been perfecting the art of pisco making and selecting the best vines for centuries. We know what regions are most apt for grape growing and what production methods are best. It’s like winemaking in France- their current methods are based on hundreds of years of tradition.”

A sommelier talks Peruvian Pisco: Part 1

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This is part 1 of a series of interviews with Fernando Gonzales-Lattini, a sommelier specialized in pisco, vigneron and producer of premium wine in the Peruvian Andes.

How do you taste pisco and train your palate?

“To properly taste a pisco, you need a pisco snifter, like the photo shown above. In a tasting, a sommelier always evaluates 3 aspects: appearance, aroma and flavor. First, take a look at how the pisco looks. A good pisco must be clear and dense. Swirl the pisco around in the snifter to test its viscosity. A viscid pisco will form thick legs on the side of the glass. This is an indication that the pisco is full-bodied and has a good ratio of alcohol/glycerol. Transparency is also very important. Hold the glass up to the light to observe its color. Peruvian pisco is clear when it runs off the still, nothing is added to it, and it isn’t aged in barrels. For those reasons, it should be as clear as water in the bottle.

To detect aromas, I always recommend that people waft toward their noses instead of smelling directly from the snifter. If you inhale too closely, you can overwhelm your sense of smell, making it impossible to distinguish aromas. Piscos made from different grapes will have different descriptors. For example, a quebranta will commonly smell like banana, mango, pecans and raisins. An aromatic pisco like Italia will smell like fruit and flowers such as jasmine. Once you have observed the aromas and appearance, it’s time to taste.

When you taste a pisco, it should feel smooth in your mouth and throat. At no time should you feel a burning or harsh sensation. Identify in your mouth what flavors it has. You should be able to taste the same aromas that you smelled. For example, if you smelled pecans, you should taste pecans. You might be able to discover other flavors too, so pay close attention to how the flavors might change at different stages in the tasting process.

This is the general idea of how to conduct a pisco tasting. Remember that it takes practice to detect the different flavors and aromas of pisco. The more you do it, the more trained your nose and palate will become.”

Toast to Peru’s national hero with a tasty Peruvian pisco cocktail!

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In Peru, it is difficult not to stumble upon something associated with José de San Martín. From streets to provinces to statues to schools, this man’s legacy is ubiquitous. Born in Argentina, José de San Martín was a military leader who fought to liberate Argentina, Chile and Peru. However, he was notable not only for his efforts to gain independence in South America. San Martín also fought to abolish slavery, advocated for indigenous people and enacted freedom of speech in Peru.

 

José de San Martín first liberated Argentina and Chile from royalist rule. He then traveled to Peru to do the same. His efforts were successful; Peru’s independence was declared on July 28th, 1821. To this day, Peruvians celebrate Independence Day with copious amounts of pisco. Now they can add PiscoLogía’s San Martín cocktail to their repertoire.

 

Peru’s national hero died in France at the age of 72, shortly after hearing the news of Argentina’s victory against the Anglo-French blockade. To note this historical fact, Kami added a French twist to this cocktail with Chartreuse and Dubbonet.

 

Created by the master Kami Kenna, we present the San Martín cocktail to you:

 

 

San Martín, Protector of Peru 

 

2 oz Pisco Acholado

1 oz Dubonnet

Bar Spoon of Yellow Chartreuse

Garnish with grapefruit peel

Shaken, served up

 

 

 

 

 

Is pisco expensive? Ask the grapes!

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Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

What makes a bottle of liquor expensive? Where does Peruvian pisco fall on the pricing scale of spirits? Let’s discuss why Peruvian pisco is a premium spirit and how its price reflects the quality and care of what goes into every bottle.

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

The price of a bottle of liquor is influenced by its distillation methods, aging times, quality of ingredients, the labor involved in the production process and other factors. The higher the quality of ingredients or the more labor involved in making it, the more expensive it will be. For example, a meticulous distiller could use 17 pounds of potatoes to make one bottle of premium vodka. A cheaper brand might use significantly less potatoes, potatoes of lower quality or sloppy distillation methods. In other words, many factors influence price, but as a general rule, the more invested by the producers when crafting the product, the more it will cost at the liquor store.

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

Now, why is Peruvian pisco on the higher end of the scale in terms of price? The answer comes down to grapes; there are a lot of grapes in one bottle of pisco. On average, there are approximately 7.5 kilos (about 16.5 pounds) of grapes per bottle of pisco puro or pisco acholado. To make a mosto verde, you need an average about 15 kilos (33 pounds), double the amount of a regular bottle of pisco.

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

To explain this further, we made the chart below. You can see how Peruvian pisco compares to wine with regard to grapes per bottle. These are averages, as cluster size, grape size and grapevine yield vary widely between vineyards.

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

Per bottle of:
Weight of grapes Clusters Grapes # of grapevines
Wine 1.5 kilos / 3.3 lbs 10 700 1
Acholado o puro 7.5 kilos / 16.5 lbs 50 3,500 almost 4
Mosto verde 15 kilos / 33 lbs 100 7,000 7.5

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

As evident in the chart, a bottle of regular pisco has more than 3,500 grapes in it, while a mosto verde requires roughly double that amount. That’s 7,000 grapes in one bottle of liquor!

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

In Azpitia, we get an average of 2 kilos of grapes per plant. This means that one bottle of pisco puro or pisco acholado uses the fruit from almost 4 entire grape vines. Mosto verde pisco uses all the fruit from 7.5 grape vines.

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

In addition to the sheer amount of fruit that goes into one bottle, one should also consider what’s required to produce healthy plants. Viticulture is arduous work. Grape vines must be carefully tended to for an entire year before the fruit can be picked. When you add in factors like hand-harvesting & hand-pruning, growing grapes can be even more expensive and time consuming.

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

We hope the next you sip a PiscoLogía cocktail, you will have a deeper understanding of what goes into every bottle. Besides thousands of grapes, there are many factors that make Peruvian pisco premium. The taste and quality of our final product reflect its price, a quintessential high-end spirit.

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

To make these estimations, we consulted the following source:

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

Piscologia is Peruvian Pisco

Gerling, Chris. “Conversion Factors: From Vineyard to Bottle.” Conversion Factors: From Vineyard to Bottle | Viticulture and Enology, 8 Dec. 2011, grapesandwine.cals.cornell.edu/newsletters/appellation-cornell/2011-newsletters/issue-8/conversion-factors-vineyard-bottle/.

Is Pisco Peruvian or Chilean?

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Is Pisco Peruvian or Chilean? This question is the subject of an ongoing debate between Peru and Chile. Based on historical and etymological evidence that the first pisco was produced in Peru and because of Peru’s rich history of pisco production, we believe pisco is essentially Peruvian.

However, the objective answer to the question is: legally, pisco is both Peruvian and Chilean; both countries call their grape brandy “pisco” and both have a protected Denomination of Origin for pisco. But despite the shared name, they are very different products. Here’s a quick refresher:

  • Peruvian pisco is single-distilled to proof and nothing is added, not even water. Chilean pisco is distilled more than once and then watered down to a desired proof.
  • Peruvian pisco is aged in neutral casks and is therefore clear, while Chilean pisco is caramel colored because it’s aged in barrels.
  • Peruvian pisco is made from one or a blend of the 8 pisco-grapes grown on the coast of Peru in any of 5 the pisco-producing departments of the country. Chilean pisco is typically made from the Muscat grape (but sometimes Torontel or Pedro Jimenez grapes) in either of the country’s two pisco-producing regions, Atacama and Coquimbo.
  • Because of the differences in their distillation methods, their aging processes, and the grapes used, the final products have aromas and flavors that are very distinctive.

 

Peru and Chile have been vying for the exclusive rights to the D.O. for pisco for years. So, what’s the status of the heated conflict now? Last month the Chilean Minister of Agriculture, Antonio Walker, met with Rogers Valencia, the Minister of Culture of Peru. Mr. Walker requested that Peru recognize Chile’s D.O. to avoid clashes between Peruvian and Chilean pisco in international markets. The Peruvian minister declined. He explained that a denomination of origin cannot be shared outside its designated region because that defeats the purpose of protecting a product within a geographical area. According to the D.O. in Peru, pisco must be produced on the coast of Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna (only in the valleys of Locumba Locumba, Sama and Caplina). Anything produced outside of those areas (for example, in Chile) cannot be considered pisco.

Peru has made great strides in protecting its D.O. for pisco. It has exclusive rights to the use the word “pisco” in 30 countries, while it shares rights with Chile in 41 countries. Chilean pisco has exclusive rights to pisco in 4 countries, but that is expected to change, as Peru is in the process of negotiating trade deals in those areas (Melgarejo).

In summary, the ongoing conflict over the Denomination of Origin for pisco will most likely continue. At PiscoLogía we are dedicated to educating the consumer about the benefits of Peruvian pisco and following the rules of the D.O. to produce a craft product of unrivaled quality. The responsibility of the D.O. regulators in Peru is to impose the strictest standards from every producer in the country. In the end, the consumers’ demand for high-quality pisco will drive the market, allowing everyone around the world to appreciate the full potential of Peruvian pisco.

 

Source:

 

Melgarejo, Víctor. “Pisco: Perú Alista Otro Triunfo Sobre Chile En La Unión Europea.” Gestion, Gestion, 12 Mar. 2019, gestion.pe/economia/pisco-peru-alista-triunfo-chile-union-europea-261079.

 

 

Salty wine, briny pisco

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PiscoLogía was recently described as deliciously briny by a discerning piscophile. We thought that this concept of brininess was interesting, so we set out to find out the origin of these salty undertones. In the end, we discovered more about how the Pacific Ocean breeze affects the flavor of our grapes and the terroir of our vineyards.

 

Many people believe that the salty sea air influences the flavor of grapes (Griffin). The reason for this comes down to simple geography. Vineyards near the coast are exposed to the tiny particles leftover from evaporated ocean spray droplets. Air currents then carry the particles from the sea, dispersing them far and wide. In the case of a vineyard, these salty remnants would fall on grape skins and in the soil (Clarke). Salt on the skins and in the environment in Azpitia would blend into the batch during production, possibly altering the flavor of the wine.

 

We have explained that to make Peruvian pisco, you first start with wine. Since our pisco is distilled only once, many characteristics of the wine are preserved in the final product. A briny, minerally wine will create a pisco with similar descriptors.

 

Our vineyards are only 4 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The ocean breeze that comes off of the coast in the early evening cools our vines while leaving a brackish trail in its path. This salty mist is just like the natural yeasts in our vineyards in Azpitia; they are floating in the air, forming the uniqueness that is our terroir.

 

Sources:

 

Clarke, Shana. “Forget the Fruit, Savor These Salty Wines.” Pastemagazine.com, 26 June 2017, 1:16pm, www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/06/forget-the-fruit-savor-these-salty-wines.html.

 

Griffin, Annaliese. “What Do We Mean When We Say a Wine Is Salty?” Quartzy, Quartz, 24 June 2018, qz.com/quartzy/1313189/what-do-we-mean-when-we-say-a-wine-is-salty/.

PiscoLogia from Harvest to fermentation- A photo journey

 

         Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest        Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest

Brix levels have reached 23° and our grapes have ripened to perfection, thanks to the balmy Peruvian sun. The fruit has an acidity of 3.4PH because of the cooling effect of the evening Pacific Ocean breeze. It’s time for harvest.

 

 

 

Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest

Flor and Samuel, who help care for our grapes, gather their family members in preparation for harvest. With an expected high of 28°C/82° F and humidity of 69% in Azpitia today, it will be sultry. To avoid the heat, we start picking grapes at 5:00AM, when the average temperature is 20°C/68° F.

 

 

 

 

        Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest, piscologia        Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest, piscologia

To maintain tradition, we harvest by hand. That allows us to hand-select each and every grape that goes into our pisco.

 

 

 

Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest, piscologia        Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest, piscologia

The grapes are then destemmed

 

 

 

Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest, piscologia

and then crushed by foot, in order to extract the juice, but not crush the seeds that could add bitterness to the juice.

 

 

 

Peruvian pisco, quebranta, acholado, how to make pisco, what is pisco, craft pisco, azpitia, types of pisco, harvest, piscologia

A secondary crush then extracts the juice that remains between the flesh and the skin of the grapes.

 

 

 

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Nati throws some skins back into the juice, just to ensure Azpitia’s natural yeasts are present.

 

 

 

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In 7 to 10 days, the yeasts work their magic, the juice ferments and the wine is ready for distillation.

The Denomination of Origin of Peruvian Pisco

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Alambiques and Falca, as defined by the the D.O. in Peru

 

Today we would like to discuss a topic that we consider to be extremely important to protecting the standards of Peruvian pisco: the Denomination of Origin. On a worldwide level, a Denomination of Origin is created to promote and protect names of quality products. Only items that meet the various geographical and quality criteria may use the protected indication. Some of the most famous items protected by a D.O. are Champagne, tequila and many cheeses, ham and wine. Peruvian pisco is also protected and regulated.

The most practical way to explain the requirements in Peru is to provide an abridged translation of the Regulation of the Denomination of Origin of Peruvian Pisco, as an English version of the document does not seem to be readily available.

Source: Reglamento de la Denominación de Origen Pisco

https://www.indecopi.gob.pe/documents/20195/200722/6+Reglamento_DO-PISCO.pdf/a2259836-69e6-4c8c-b403-f8c3c38f7039

Peru was awarded the rights to protect and regulate the production of pisco in 1991. As stated by the Regulating Council, the clear brandy is a product obtained exclusively from the distillation of fresh, recently fermented musts of pisco grapes, using traditional production methods. It must be produced on the coast (no higher than 2,000 meters above sea level) in the Departments of Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua and the Locumba, Sama y Caplina Valleys of Tacna. The grapes must also be grown in these areas.

Pisco grapes are defined as any of the following varieties: Quebranta, Negra Criolla, Mollar, Italia, Moscatel, Albilla, Torontel y Uvina. Only Uvina grapes from Lunahuaná, Pacarán y Zúñiga, in the Cañete province (Lima), are protected by the D.O. Non-aromatic grapes are defined as Quebranta, Negra Criolla, Mollar y Uvina, while aromatic grapes are Italia, Moscatel, Albilla y Torontel.

Pisco must be produced by an authorized person & in a distillery that is accepted by the D.O. The grapes also must be grown in a vineyard approved by the Regulating Council.

The following types of pisco are recognized:

Pisco puro (pure)– pisco obtained solely from one variety of pisco grape.

Pisco mosto verde (green must)– pisco obtained from distilling fresh musts from pisco grapes. In a mosto verde, fermentation is interrupted, so you distill when there is still sugar present in the juice.

Pisco acholado (blend)– pisco obtained from a mix of: pisco grapes, musts of pisco grapes or pisco made from pisco grapes.

Fermentation can occur in the following ways: without maceration, with full maceration or with partial maceration of the grape pomace, controlling the temperature and sugar degradation process of the must. The distillation process must start immediately after fermentation, with the exception of mosto verde pisco, which should be distilled before the musts are fully fermented.

Pisco should rest for a minimum of 3 months, in glass or stainless steel containers (or any other container that doesn’t alter its physical, chemical, or organic properties) in order to promote the evolution of the alcohol and general properties of the pisco. Nothing may be added, not even water or sugar. The final product must have alcohol levels between 38% and 48%.

Pisco must be made by direct distillation, separating the heads from the tails, to select the body of the product. The machines used should be made of copper or tin. The pots may be made from stainless steel. Pisco should be distilled in falcas, alambiques, or alambiques with calientavinos (See figures above).

There are many more regulations such as reporting production volumes, labeling requirements, and the characteristics of the final product, but we will leave those for another post.

Some final comments: Nati strictly abides by the rules of the D.O. when she produces PiscoLogía. We believe her dedication to following the regulations makes our pisco one of the best.

We would like to emphasize the importance of enforcing the D.O. regulations on a national level. If Peruvian pisco is going to conquer top shelves across the world, only brandies of utmost quality should reach the market. Because the D.O. designation in Peru is relatively new, interpretations of the Regulation are constantly evolving and improving. It is our hope that one day the same strict standards seen in areas such as Tequila, Mexico and Champagne, France will be applied to the production of Peruvian pisco. Producers, consumers, and D.O. enforcers should all apply uncompromising criteria to protect this high-quality spirit. With collaboration on all levels and by investing time and necessary resources, Peruvian pisco will become the world leader of top-shelf spirits.