Home > Good, Tasting Notes and Wine Reviews > The Wines of Louis-Antoine Luyt

The Wines of Louis-Antoine Luyt

A week ago we drank four different Chilean wines by Louis-Antoine Luyt.  These were fun wines to taste.  I might have my preferences for current drinking but I want to start by suggesting you buy all four wines.  They are each unique, clearly exist with a purpose, and will surely change how you view Chilean wine.

Carignan for Primavera, the Comavida Parcel, Image from Clos Ouvert

The fruit for Louis-Antoine’s wines are literally rooted in over three centuries of history.  The grape vine is not indigenous to Chile and was first brought over in 1548 by Francisco de Carabantes.  Just three years later the first recorded vintage in Chile took place.  By the 1640s grapes were so abundant that they could not be disposed of.

Ovalle, in his History of Chili, says that grapes were so plentiful in 1646, that they could not be disposed of… White wines were made from that species of grape called Uba Torrontes and Albilla which were much valued; red wines were made from the ordinary grape and a species called Mollar.  The bunches of grapes, he says, were enormously large; and he mentions one that filled a basket, and served as a meal for a numerous convent of friars. The branches of the vine he describes as very large, and the trunks of the trees as thick as a man’s body.

Morewood, Samuel.  A Philosophical and Statistical History of the Inventions and Customs of Ancient and Modern Nations in the Manufacture and Use of Inebriating Liquors.  Dublin: William Curry, Jun. and Company, 1838. pp 307-308.

Louis-Antoine’s oldest vines have roots dating from 120 years back to 350 years or 1660.  These vines are of the Pais varietal, also known as Mollar, which is a clonal variation of Listan Negro.  Listan Negro is a Spanish varietal which was brought over from the Canary Islands by the Spanish missionaries.  The vineyards in Chile do not suffer downy mildew nor phylloxera.  As we have seen with the ancient Assyrtiko vines of Santorini, the old roots will live for centuries.  The vines are periodically cut off at the base and a new vine regenerates.  Perhaps the combination of abundant vines along with pest and disease free soils allowed such old vines to survive into the 21st century.

Argentina Cile Uruguay, Instituto Geographico di Agostini, 1952, Image from David Rumsey Map Collection

Louis-Antoine also produces wine from vines dating back 100 years.  These are of varietals such as Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, and Syrah.  In the 1840s French varietals were first imported and specialists from Bordeaux and Rioja were brought over as well.  But it was the devastating European phylloxera of the 1870s which brought an influx of winemakers, viticulturalists, and coopers.  Thus over several decades the use of French varietals spread throughout the country.

The wines featured in this post are all made by Louis-Antoine Luyt.  He is a Frenchman who moved to Chile  some 14 years ago.  During his return trips to work French harvests and go to school he met Mathew Lapierre.  Matthew became his mentor and eventually visited Chile with Louis-Antoine.  Together, along with a third-partner, they began the Clos Ouvert project.  The Clos Ouvert wines are produced from parcel Louis-Antoine rents and tends.  In the devastating earthquake of 2010 the entire production of Clos Ouvert was lost and his partners pulled out.  Louis-Antoine decided to continue the label himself.  The Pais wines are made from purchased fruit which highlight specific parcels.  The Louis-Antoine Luyt wines represent “fun wines” which are made from purchased fruit.  For further information I recommend that you start by reading the interview on the Louis/Dressner website.  You may find it here.  For additional images please view the Clos Ouvert website.

In short, these are unique and engaging wine which I recommend you try.  Many thanks to Jules Dressner for answering my questions.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2010 Louis-Antoine Luyt, Carignan, Trequilemu, Secano – $22
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  Alcohol 12.9%.  The color is medium purple, cloud with bits.  The light to medium scented nose is of delicately ripe, red and blue fruit.  In the mouth there is fresh fruit with density, ripe textured flavors, and acidity from the beginning.  There is an earthy hint to dark red fruit with energy coming from the acidity.  There is a lipstick bit along with fresh orange-juice acidity which causes the mouth to water.  *** Now-2017.

2010 Louis-Antoine Luyt, El Pais de Quenehuao, Valle de Maule – $24
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color is light to medium purple with hints of black cherry.  The nose is of floral red fruit, a hint of grapefruit, and an overall brighter, finer scent.  In the mouth there is pure red fruit with more noticeable structure than the Carignan.  The flavors start with a modest prickle.  There are drying red grapefruit flavors and an overall dry nature by the finish and a drying quality on the cheeks.  This wine shows more tannins.  It develops a note similar to pepper.  *** Now-2015.

2009 Clos Ouvert, Carmenere, Cauquenes, Valle de Maule – $27
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose bears a little greenhouse, floral note.  In the mouth the flavors are lively on the tongue with earthy, bramble fruit.  This wine is minerally with sweet spices and very lifted in the finish and aftertaste.  There is lively acidity, balance throughout, and ripe tannins.  The long aftertaste is a bit racy and earthy.  *** Now-2019.

2010 Clos Ouvert, Primavera, Secano, Valle de Maule – $27
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose is of red fruit, citrus, and a yeast note.  In the mouth there is tight, red brambly fruit which is lively on the tongue.  There are chalky minerals, orange juice acidity, and red concentrated fruit which remained tight over two nights.  This is a structured wine with citric tannins and comes across as the youngest of all four.  *** 2015-2020.

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