A sommelier talks Peruvian Pisco: Part 3

pisco, piscologia, pisco grapes

This is part 3 of a series of interviews with Fernando Gonzales-Lattini, a sommelier specialized in pisco, vigneron and producer of premium wine in the Peruvian Andes.

You are interested in terroir and how it affects a wine. What can you say about the terroir at Azpitia?  

“Azpitia is interesting because it has sandy soils that can be extremely challenging for viticulture. Nati does an excellent job of working with the conditions there to grow high quality grapes. PiscoLogía’s vineyards in the Mala Valley are at a higher altitude and they are strategically located to allow them to be cooled by the Pacific Ocean breeze. This effect gives the grapes more concentrated flavors and better acidity. Higher quality grapes make a better quality wine, which in turn, makes a better pisco.

I also appreciate Azpitia because it is a very small production region. There are maybe 100 hectares maximum of small farms. That small size, in addition to its unique terroir, makes the pisco crafted there even more rare and special.”

 

You have observed Nati during production and you have tasted her pisco. What can you say about Nati as a professional?  

“I admire Nati for many reasons. First, she is so meticulous in her viticulture practices. In the winemaking world, everyone knows that to make a good wine, you must start in the vineyards. Only high-quality grapes can make a good wine. In the case of pisco, distillation is just one step further in the process. That means the way you care for your grapes translates directly into your pisco. Many pisco producers in Peru buy grapes, but PiscoLogía is made from 100% estate-grown grapes. That allows for Nati to have strict quality control throughout the entire process.

I also like how Nati adheres to tradition and she strictly follows the Denomination of Origin. By demanding a high quality product and never compromising her standards, she is setting the bar for other producers in all of Peru. 

Finally, Nati and her team hand select every grape that goes into every bottle of pisco. They also use selective pressing techniques to maximize each grape, but without adding bitterness from the seeds. Nothing is arbitrary in her process. The methodical steps she takes really shine through in the final result- a pisco of Premier Grand Cru quality.”

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.”

Tipos de pisco peruano: Acholado y Quebranta

quebranta, acholado, uvas pisqueras, uvas pisco, pisco

El pisco peruano es un aguardiente de uvas que se destila una vez y reposa un mínimo de 3 meses.

La uva quebranta es una de las variedades de uvas pisqueras que se usa para hacer pisco, igual que el cabernet sauvignon y chardonnay son tipos de uva para vino. En Perú, hay ocho variedades de uvas pisqueras: quebranta, negra criolla, mollar y uvina (no-aromáticas) e italia, torontel, moscatel y albilla (aromáticas).

El pisco acholado se hace mezclando un mínimo de dos de las distintas variedades de pisco o dos variedades de uvas antes mencionadas. Nuestra destiladora, Nati hace una mixtura perfecta de uvas quebranta e italia para crear un acholado que se puede usar en cócteles o para tomar solo. Aquí hay más información sobre los dos:

Pisco Acholado

piscologia, peruvian pisco, pisco, craft pisco, acholado, quebranta

Aromas: Pecanas y azahar

Sabores: Grosella madura y seca, plátano

Maridaje recomendado: Chocolate semi-dulce

“Huevos Benedictinos”

  • 2 onzas PiscoLogía Acholado
  • 1 onza jarabe de piña
  • 1 onza limón
  • .5 onza licor Benedictine
  • Clara de huevo
  • Nuez moscada (guarnición)

Sirve en las rocas

Pisco Quebranta

quebranta, piscologia, pisco, craft pisco

Aromas: Herbáceo, plátano dulce caramelizado

Sabores: Almendras tostadas, plátano, pecanas y manzanas verdes ácidas

Maridaje recomendado: Camembert y manzanas

“Uva encima de uva”

  • 2 onzas PiscoLogía Quebranta
  • .5 onza Jerez Manzanilla
  • .5 onza Vermut Punte E Mes Dulce

Sirve sin hielo en un vaso coctelero

Closing the Gender Gap by Honoring Blanca Varela

Blanca varela

Credit: Stefany2121

We set out to write a blog post about literary references to Peruvian pisco since the word “pisco” was first documented in Peru in the 16th century. It was pleasantly surprising to find that many prominent writers from around the world have written about Peruvian pisco over the course of five centuries.

However, our euphoria soon dissipated when we realized that none of the historical texts we studied were written by women. While we do appreciate the literary contributions of males, especially when the subject is pisco, we decided to scrap our original blog idea. The absence of women in this realm compelled us to discuss a subject that is even more pressing for us: the gender gap.

Gender inequality is not just a historical phenomenon and it is not limited to published works. It is prevalent and oppressive in present day, from the way we divide household duties to the lack of women in management level positions. As explained in Global Issues: Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, “Globally, women have fewer opportunities for economic participation than men, less access to basic and higher education, greater health and safety risks, and less political representation”. This issue affects every country. In fact, it is so ubiquitous that it will take 108 more years to close the gender gap around the world (World Economic Forum).

Although this may seem dire, there are ways to accelerate equality between the sexes. One way is by celebrating the achievements of females. The National Women’s History Alliance encourages people to recognize the dignity and accomplishments of women because it promotes higher self-esteem in girls and greater respect toward women in boys. As a result, girls perform better in school and communities become less violent. Greater self-esteems and appreciation of women are not universal cures, but they are an important part of the process of achieving gender equality.

Taking this advice of the National Women’s History Alliance, we would like to highlight the accomplishments of one admirable female poet, Blanca Varela. As a bonus, we will demonstrate how Peruvian pisco played a role in her artistic exploration.

Considered one of Peru’s greatest poets, Blanca Varela was born in Lima in 1926. Her mother, Serafina Quinteras, was a composer, poet, writer, singer and journalist. Following her mother’s footsteps and with persuasion from Octavio Paz, Blanca published her first poetry book in 1959. She won many awards in her lifetime, including the Federico García Lorca International Poetry Prize in 2006. She was the first woman to ever receive that prestigious award.

In a short note titled “Amigos, fantasmas y recuerdos”, written in 1974, Blanca discussed the pisco cocktails she frequently drank at the Peña Pancho Fierro, a gathering place in the Plaza de San Martín in downtown Lima. She didn’t reveal the “secret recipe” of the pisco concoction with macerated fruit. However, she did discuss how inspired she felt in the intimate company of Peru’s most prominent artistic figures. The “magic circle” included Sebastián Salazar Bondy, Teresa Carvallo, Emilio Adolfo Westphalen, Martín Adán, César Moro and Fernando de Szyszlo. In “Amigos, fantasmas y recuerdos”, Blanca sentimentally recalls the time she spent at the Peña Pancho Fierro (Jochamowitz). We are happy pisco was part of that experience.

Recognizing Blanca Varela is a small advancement in closing the gender gap. We hope her accomplishments will forge a path for other females in the future so the next time we revisit written works about pisco, we will find contemporary female’s names next to men’s. We know we can’t change history, but we can influence the future.

To close this post, we would like to share a poem written by Blanca Varela, Curriculum Vitae:

let’s say you won the race
and the prize
was another race
you didn’t savor the wine of victory
but your own salt
you never listened to hurrahs
but dog barks
and your shadow
your own shadow
was your only
and disloyal competitor

Sources:

“Blanca Varela.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 21 Apr. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blanca_Varela.

“Global Issues: Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.” Global Issues: Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, www.peacecorps.gov/educators/resources/global-issues-gender-equality-and-womens-empowerment/.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2018. World Economic Forum, 2018, The Global Gender Gap Report 2018, www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GGGR_2018.pdf.

Jochamowitz, Luis. “’Una Pequeñísima Puerta’.” Caretas Ilustración Peruana, www2.caretas.pe/Main.asp?T=3082&S=&id=12&idE=1263&idSTo=774&idA=75746#.XN1kNaZ7mu4.

Varela, Blanca. “Curriculum Vitae.” PoemHunter.com, 27 Aug. 2016, www.poemhunter.com/poem/curriculum-vitae-4/.

“Why Women’s History?” National Women’s History Alliance, nationalwomenshistoryalliance.org/why-womens-history/.

The Many Facets of Kami Kenna

kami kenna, pisco, piscologia, women owned liquor business, peruvian pisco

 

 

Kami recently described herself as a Matryoshka doll, her layers unstacked by life experiences, a journey of self-awareness as she progresses through her career. However, when I think of Kami, I envision a mass of snow tumbling down a steep slope, accumulating the necessary mass to gain force, avalanching to its destination.

 

In the case of Kami, both metaphors apply. She is introspective like the innermost Matryoshka. But like an avalanche, she is also indomitable. Kami is multi-faceted; an avid researcher, activist, spirits specialist, distiller, businesswoman and visionary leader. Determined but intuitive while fulfilling those roles, she cares for her community as she continues her crusade.

 

Many exciting endeavors await my business partner. Drink a Seat, a blog that documents her extensive knowledge of food and drink, will become a wild success. She will complete a Master’s degree in Food Studies at NYU (yes, I said NYU!) where she will continue her research on Peruvian pisco, mezcal and beyond. Her sustainable distillery will revolutionize the way people think about liquor. She will change mentalities through education through her future podcast. Kami won’t stop until PiscoLogía is the best, most widely distributed pisco in the world. More importantly, she will care for the earth and its people while reaping its precious edible ingredients.

 

Kami’s past experiences gave her the tools to spearhead a path to success. As a young child, she used to spend numerous hours at her grandparents’ pharmacy in Northern Idaho. She passed the time by observing the business operations and playing with the cash register, punching random numbers to record imaginary sales. Her grandpa reproached her carelessness. Little did he know, his granddaughter was learning how to run a business and how to be accountable. Kami also experimented with food in her kitchen as an adolescent, learning to combine flavors, aromas and ingredients, information she would use in the future to become one of the best bartenders in the Northwest.

 

It was in the Portland community that she found her sense of belonging and the drive to learn more. She moved there at the age of 18, training under the best bartenders at her uncle’s bar, the Brazen Bean. Years later, the lessons learned from that apprenticeship led her to win a cocktail competition. The grand prize was a trip to Peru. Throughout all this, her past was the force behind her – observing her grandparents’ business, food experimentation, and mixing ingredients with liquor to create masterpieces.

 

In Peru, Nati and I recognized her talent, industry knowledge and intuition. Inviting her to become partner of PiscoLogía was the obvious choice. She built the concept that encapsulates our craft pisco brand now. But she didn’t stop there. She moved to Mexico to become a specialist in tequila and mezcal, now giving tours to inquisitive minds from around the globe. However, for Kami, these monumental steps are part of the process of achieving something even greater.

 

Kami’s path started with tiny punches of numbers, spitting out the register tape of life, imaginary scenarios that would one day play out in her career. Nati and I are fortunate to be this trajectory with her, our forces coming together to reach our final goal. Her innermost Matryoshka epitomizes perfection, but I see it growing rather than retreating. It’s grander than she thinks- a tremendous mass gaining momentum, advocating for change, lifting up others and building empires.

 

 

-Meg

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

pisco cocktail, pisco, peruvian pisco, best pisco, pisco peru, san martin cocktail, craft pisco, piscologia, quebranta, acholado, cocktail recipe

 

 

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!

pisco grapes, acholado, quebranta, pisco, peruvian pisco, piscologia, best pisco, uvas pisqueras

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?

pisco peruano, piscologia, Peruvian pisco, what is pisco, is pisco peruvian or chilean, craft pisco, how to make pisco

 

Is Pisco Peruvian or Chilean? This question is the subject of an ongoing debate between Peru and Chile. Because indisputable historical and etymological evidence suggests that pisco was first produced in Perú, we firmly believe pisco is Peruvian.  So, in order to protect the Denomination of Origin for pisco in Perú, we will use the term “Chilean brandy”.

Despite the argument over the origin and ownership of pisco, it is indisputable that Peruvian pisco and Chilean brandy are very different distilled spirits. In this post, we will examine their production methods, the grape varieties used, their production zones and more.

Here’s a quick refresher:

  • Peruvian pisco is single-distilled to proof and nothing is added, not even water. Chilean brandy 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 brandy 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 brandy is typically made from the Muscat grape (but sometimes Torontel or Pedro Jimenez grapes) in either of the country’s two production 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 brandy 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

pisco, peruvian pisco, salinity wine, piscologia, quebranta, acholado, azpitia, pisco descriptors, pisco peruano, vineyard peru

 

 

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/.

Aging Peruvian Pisco

In past posts we have discussed various steps of PiscoLogía’s production process, including harvest, fermentation and distillation. So, what else must happen before our pisco is bottled and exported? Like most spirits, pisco must rest before bottling. In fact, the regulations of the Denomination of Origin require that Peruvian pisco sit for at least 3 months in neutral casks so as to not alter its physical, chemical or organoleptic characteristics. This allows the flavors and aromas of pisco to evolve, improving the overall quality of the final product (Consejo).

 

At PiscoLogía, we prefer a maturation period of at least 6 months. If we are lucky, our pisco will sit for a couple of years before we bottle. We believe the longer it sits, the more time the flavors and aromas have to meld. Our master distiller and partner Nati explains the reasoning behind this long maturation period: “pisco aromas are extremely volatile. During the sitting stage, these aromas stabilize and blend with the liquid. The Peruvian Pisco Standard requires a resting period of at least three months, but we have our pisco sit at least 6 months to ensure the best quality product”.

 

When discussing volatility in the context of pisco production, it means that the desired aromas easily evaporate at normal temperatures. That means if a pisco isn’t properly cared for, it will lose all its aromatic qualities. A recently distilled Peruvian pisco should rest in sealed neutral casks in order to prevent evaporation and to allow the aromas to blend with the liquid.

 

In addition to melding aromas, the resting period enhances the flavor of pisco while fading out unwanted nuances caused by impurities. Because of its effect on the flavor and aroma, the resting phase of the production process is crucial in creating a balanced, high-quality craft pisco.

 

Sources:

 

Consejo Regulador de la Denominación de Origen Pisco. “Reglamento De La Denominación De Origen Pisco.” www.indecopi.gob.pe/documents/20195/200722/6+Reglamento_DO-PISCO.pdf/a2259836-69e6-4c8c-b403-f8c3c38f7039.

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