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The Listán Prieto Grape


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About Listán Prieto

(Synonyms: Criolla Chica, El Paso, Hariri, Listrão, Misión, Mission, Mission’s Grape, Moscatel Negro, Negra Antigua, Negra Corriente, Negra Peruana, País, Palomina Negra, Rosa del Peru, Uva Chica Negra, Uva Negra, Uva Negra Vino, Uva Tinta, Viña Blanca, Viña Negra.)

Background

Map showing the Castilla-La Mancha region of Spain.

Listán Prieto is a red-wine grape originating (like Don Quixote) in the Castilla-La Mancha region of Spain. Like the Don, it has had rather a wild history, starting many centuries ago. In the mid-16th century, it was carried by Franciscan missionaries to the New World, starting in Mexico then on into Chile and the Argentine. By at least 1620, it had further spread into what is now southern California. During this period, the grape, in its new home, was called simply “the Mission grape”, as it was planted at each of the numerous missions established throughout the region. Some centuries on, in the 19th to be exact, the grape became known in Chile, where it was widely planted, as “País”, by which name it is still known there. Meanwhile, still back in the 16th century, the grape was also carried to the Canary Islands, where it somehow became—erroneously—known as “Moscatel Negro” despite being no sort of Muscat relative. So for centuries, the grape was widely established in the New World from southern South America up through southern California and across to what is now Texas. It was the first Vitis vinifera in the New World, and for a long time the only one.

Since the friars made wine for sacramental not esthetic purposes, and were doing so with primitive winemaking methods, the wines from the “Mission” grape were not very good. In consequence, the grape fell into grave disfavor once real wine-making begain in the New World; for a very long time, the grape was considered as being, at best, a passable-eating table grape. But the world turns…

Nowadays, the grape we today call Listán Prieto (one of three Listán grapes, the others being Listán Negro and Listán Blanca, the latter better known as Palomino Fino) has essentially disappeared from Spain, but is grown in four areas: the Canary Islands (as both Listán Prieto and Moscatel Negro), Chile (still as País), California (as Mission, and rarely used for table wines), and Argentina (as Criolla Chica). There may also be some in Peru, but the naming makes determination difficult.

It is from Chile that the modern upswing in the grape’s fortunes comes. As is so often the case with “rescued” varieties, it was largely the work of one dedicated person that drove the revival (in this case, a Frenchman named Louis-Antoine Luyt). Luyt used carbonic maceration to soften the normally harsh tannins of the grape, and thus enhance its fruit qualities. The resultant wines are light-colored and crisply acidic, low in alcohol, with red-fruit flavors that Jancis Robinson calls “tart”, and a fine texture that becomes yet more silken as the wine is bottle-aged.

Factoid: Despite the genetic match of the variously named grapes, enough clonal variation has occurred over the centuries of their geographical separation that the Mission grape of the Americas and the Listán Prieto grape of the Canary Islands are classified by the Vitis International Variety Catalogue as two separate grape varieties. Part of the variation is likely because some of earliest plantings by the Spanish missionaries were from grape seeds, which are the result of pollination and sexual propagation and thus more likely to have slight differences from the parent vine than the more usual ine propagation using cuttings.

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Some Descriptions of Listán Prieto Wines

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Some Listán Prietos to Try

(About this list.)

When looking for Listán Prieto wines, keep in mind that many of them are labelled as País and some as Pipeño (which is a style rather than a varietal wine, though País normally dominates, usually 80% up to 100%).

Not all of the wines below are as widely available as we like for these lists, but they’re what we found.


J. Bouchon País “Salvaje”
(This is not the only “País they bottle: see below.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



J. Bouchon País “Viejo”
(This is not the only “País they bottle: see above.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
  (CellarTracker has two separate listings for this wine.)
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Cacique Maravilla “Pipeño” País
(Pipeño is a distinctive Chilean wine-making style. Note that they also bottle other Pipeños: make sure you’re looking at the País Pipeño.
Note also that this wine is sold in liter bottles, so the cost per 750 ml is 3/4 of the retail price.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Garage Wine Co. “Single-Ferment” País
(The exact sub-name of this wine changes annually: it is of the form “2xx BC Ferment”, where xx increments by 1 every year, being 215 in 2017—it refers to the number of years País was being vinified in Chile Before Cabernet arrived.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
  (CellarTracker has two separate listings for this wine, probably owing to the annual name change.)
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



A Los Viñateros Bravos “Volcánico” País

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

Our nomination is the Roberto Henriquez "Rivera del Notro" Tinto.

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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This page was last modified on Monday, 23 March 2020, at 3:52 pm Pacific Time.