Situated in central-western South America, Peru – officially the Republic of Peru – neighbours Colombia and Ecuador in the north, Brazil in the east, Bolivia in the southeast and Chile in the South. Covering just under 1.3 million sqkm and with a population of over 31 million, Peru is as large as France, Italy and Spain combined, or as populous as half of France. Comprising elements of the Pacific desert, Andes mountain range and Amazon rainforest, Peru is remarkable for its extreme biodiversity.
If civilisation is defined by urban settlements, Peru’s Norte Chico civilization originated from Caral – the Sacred City of Caral-Supe is a UNESCO World Heritage site – as the oldest in the Americas, and indeed one of the oldest in the world, dating back to the 26th century BC. During the 15th and 16th centuries AD, the Inca Empire, with its capital in Cuzco, was the largest state in the pre-Columbian Americas. At the height of its power, the Spanish Empire – the first empire on which the sun never set – ruled much of the Americas with its four viceroyalties: Viceroyalty of New Spain (capital: Mexico City), Viceroyalty of Peru (capital: Lima, later Cuzco), Viceroyalty of New Granada (capital: Bogotá) and Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata (capital: Buenos Aires, later Montevideo).
The first vitis vinifera vines were introduced to Cuzco by Spanish conquistadores and missionaries from Andalucia and Extremadura. Conventional wisdom has it that, in the Old World at least, quality wine production is largely confined to those regions lying between the 30th and 45th degrees parallel. Stretching from the equator to Tropic of Capricorn (ca. 23rd degree parallel), Peru seems to have been dealt a bad hand, but for mitigating factors such as altitude and maritime influence. In fact, growing conditions are so favourable that, during the 16th and 17th centuries, Peru possessed the most important vineyards in the Americas, when it was the political centre of South America. In the 17th century, Potosí – in modern day Bolivia – was the largest city in the Americas thanks to mining. Keen demand from this area further drove Peruvian wine upwards.
Through no fault of its own, the subsequent centuries saw Peruvian wine go into decline. It was not until the turn of the 21st century that Peruvian wine welcomed a long-awaited renaissance. Today, Peru comprises five DOs (Denominación de Origen): North Coast, Central Coast, South Coast, Andean Sierra and Selva. Its wine industry is characterised by three large producers and just under 100 small wineries. With a proud history dating back to 1540 when the first vines were planted in South America, Bodega Tacama is Peru’s oldest wine producer.
To be continued…
A single-varietal Chardonnay from Ica matured for six months in oak barrels. Rich citrine with bright golden reflex, the aromatic nose offers grapefruit, apricot, salted butter and acacia. With generous acidity, the fleshy palate delivers lemon, nectarine, garden herbs and green almond. Medium-full bodied at 13.5 percent, the suave entry continues through a juicy mid-palate, leading to a rounded finish.
Bodega Tacama Don Manuel Tannat 2012
A single-varietal Tannat from Ica matured for 12 months in oak barrels. Deep garnet with carmine-ruby rim, the fragrant nose presents blackberry, damson, nutmeg and tobacco leaf. With abundant acidity and copious tannins, the energetic palate supplies cassis, prune, grilled herbs and black coffee. Medium-full bodied at 14.5 percent, the leafy entry persists through a tangy mid-palate, leading to a long finish.
Special thanks to the Consulate General of Peru in Hong Kong & Macao for hosting the private tasting. The following wines were tasted in the presence of Consul General Mr Sergio Manuel Avila Traverso and Deputy Consul General Mr Gonzalo Talavera-Alvarez.
For further information or enquiry, contact Ms Rosie Wu of the Consulate General of Peru in Hong Kong & Macao; E: firstname.lastname@example.org; T: +852 2868 2622
Jacky I.F. Cheong is a legal professional by day and columnist by night. Having spent his formative years in Britain,
France, and Germany, he regularly writes about wine, fine arts, classical music, and politics in several languages