Exploring the potential of País in Chile plus 10 top bottles to seek out

Old-vine País at Cacique Maravilla, Bío Bío

The story of País is a classic Cinderella tale. It started life as Listán Prieto, probably in the Gredos mountains of Castilla-La Mancha, central Spain. Via the conquistadores, with their missionary entourages carrying knowledge and tools for viticulture and winemaking, it travelled along the Columbian trade route, first to the Canary Islands, then the Americas.

For more than four centuries, País was a secret treasure. In homesteads throughout Chile’s southern countryside it was used to make wines known as pipeños – rustic country wines fermented in rauli pipas (open wooden lagares).

Scroll down to see 10 top País wines worth seeking out

As Chile’s wine industry developed further north, País from the south was largely dismissed as a peasant variety unfit for ‘proper’ wine – too light in colour or too ‘rustic’ in character. It took a young Frenchman to set in motion a renewed appreciation of País and a revival of the south’s winemaking heritage.

The southern revival