The big Mission/Pais/Listan Prieto thread.

I thought I’d break out a new thread for this varietal, since I couldn’t find one.

I’ve had pretty much all the Missions produced in CA (as well as quite a few Chilean Pais ones and Listen Prietos). And I’ve yet to find one I didn’t like. And when I check CT, I can’t find anyone below 88pts, so where this poor grape got it’s reputation for “not being suitable for winemaking” is beyond me. What I think happens is someone says it in some historic tasting and then wine professionals just keep perpetuating it as a fact for decades. In the case of Mission, for a century (it seems). Poor grape has truly been maligned here in CA, most of it ripped out and what was left sold to lowest paying bulk wine producer at time. The few vines left standing are mostly 100+ years old.

Out of the CA ones, I’ve had Broc, Harrington, Sandlands, Hendry. Story Vineyards is the only one I haven’t tried, but just ordered two bottles. They’ve all been quite different and it shows that the Mission grape is capable of being made in a lot of different styles and it would suggest it picks up a lot of site specific characteristics. That said, these producers only take fruit from pretty much 2 or 3 growers, since that’s all that is left. But it can be light, it can be full, depending on the winemaker’s approach and where its grown. Reminds me of Pinot in that sense. The Hendry was the most subdued of them all - very low speaking voice. It was nice and rounded, but earthier and much more closed than the others, that tended to be sprightly, fruity and peppery.

Chilean ones have mainly been from Viña González Bastias (Matorral) Pais as well as that producers amphora version (Tinaja) - both are excellent. The former, Mattoral, is a very peppery, medium to full bodied wine that would dispel any notion that Mission can’t produce “serious” wines. Even Envinante’s Benje Listan Prieto is excellent, but on the earthier side.

I’ve yet to try any of the Chilean Pais-producer Louis-Antoine Luyt’s or Bichi’s offerings or the Argentinian equivalent, Criolla Chica. I’ve not tried Rajat Parr’s Pais either as it’s only for his wine club members, but would love to do so, so if anyone has one for sale, I’d be happy to buy it!

What Missions/Listans/Pais have you tried?

Thanks for starting this discussion, Adam!

I’ve liked most of the Mission and País wines I’ve tasted, though I found some of the Luyt and Bichi bottlings - and one or two others from Chile - that I’ve tasted to be excessively bretty. I suppose that the grape variety, with its naturally high pH even at modest brix (at least from my experience), is more susceptible to brett than some other varieties. I have not had a bretty Mission from California, fortunately.

I’ve found Mission and País wines to be highly distinctive - once you’ve tried a couple of them, the aromatics are unmistakable.

Here are a couple of photos from a Mission / País / Angelica tasting a group of us put together at Harrington Wines in early 2016.

The Luyt Pipeño wines were a mixed bag (one corked, one quite bretty with another showing more moderate brett) but the better ones were very nice. The Mission Rosé from Proulx (Westside Paso) was 75% Mission and ok but not very expressive of the varietal character. Thought the Miraflores Mission was showing a bit too much oak. Among the dessert wines, you probably know that the Harbor Mission del Sol is not an Angelica as it was made using a different method. The Picchetti and Miraflores Angelicas were both nice though stylistically somewhat different.

Other Mission and País wines I’ve had include the Garage Wine Co. País from Chile - thought that was quite nice. My favorite from Chile has been the J. Bouchon País Salvaje, from “wild” vines that climb up trees. I’ve tried another one from J. Bouchon called País Viejo that I didn’t think was as good. Of course I’ve had the Mission wines from Harrington and Broc, both of which I like quite a bit. Both are sourced from Somers Vineyard in Lodi, located right in the river bottom of the Mokelumne River - we don’t know how old those vines are.

I mentioned on another thread here that I tasted Raj Parr’s 2018 País (sourced from Deaver Vineyard), which I thought was ok but not a standout. I also mentioned that Dani Rozman of La Onda in the Sierra Foothills has worked with old-vine País and Cinsault from Chile, and I believe he’s continuing to do that (though I think his upcoming Chilean wines will be under a different label). I tasted his 2015 Cinsault–País a few years ago - this was about a 70%/30% blend and was very good. The Pais component was unmistakable and really stood out.

As far as Angelicas, I’ve had some very nice ones from Miraflores and Deaver, both made by Marco Cappelli from the old (planted ~1853) Mission vines at Deaver. I had the opportunity to taste a bunch of Angelica barrel samples with Marco at Miraflores a couple of years ago (notes included here if anyone is interested: Visit to Miraflores Winery, November 2017). I also tasted three Mission dessert wines at Deaver a couple of months ago (notes are included here: Visit to Deaver Vineyards, May 2019). Here’s one of the old Deaver Mission vines:

I’ve have had the Mission Angelica from Galleano in Cucamonga Valley - very nice rendition from a true throwback winery! I tasted the Gypsy Canyon Angelica many years ago and don’t recall much about it other than the crazy expensive price. I’ve also had the Foxen Barberena Vineyard Mission dessert wine - more like a Port-style wine than a true Angelica, fortified partway through fermentation so the RS is about 10% (roughly half of the 2015 Harrington Angelica).

I’m sure I’m forgetting a couple of others that I’ve tried in recent years (I know I’ve had a Listán Prieto but no recollection of the producer) but that’s most of them!

I’ll close with a brief intro I wrote on the Listán Prieto / País / Mission grape variety for my Grape-Nutz write-up on visiting Deaver Vineyards a couple of months ago, for those who are not familiar with the variety.

Mission is the name used and recognized in the United States for a grape variety that originally came from Spain and may well be the first Vitis vinifera variety brought by the Spanish to the Americas. It’s almost certainly the first Vitis vinifera variety that was planted in California, in the late eighteenth century. Known as Listán Prieto in Spain – where it is now rare if not extinct other than in the Canary Islands – the variety may be best known as País, as it is called in Chile.

Mission was commonly planted in California in the first half of the nineteenth century but fell out of favor and was supplanted by other varieties imported from Europe. Little acreage remains in California, but some Mission has continued to be a source of fruit for a few producers who make Angelica, a traditional California style that’s essentially the same as Mistela in Spain or Mistelle in France. Angelica is considered by many to be the first recognized California style of wine, being made by the early nineteenth century and possibly earlier. After pressing, the juice is fortified with brandy at the very beginning of fermentation if not before, so it shares some similarity with Port but is generally sweeter. When barrel-aged – and allowed to oxidize in the traditional fashion – it can take on considerable complexity. In recent years, there has also been a minor revival of Mission as a table wine in California. Recent Mission wines in California as well as País wines in Chile have shown that the variety can make fresh and light reds - certainly nothing profound, but fun, tasty, and distinctive wines nonetheless. So there continues to be a demand for Mission grapes, and that demand may be growing though it remains tiny in comparison with most other varieties.

A couple notes from some Pais/Mission. I’ve generally liked them. I generally think they are generally lighter style (at least the ones I’ve tried) so good for the AFWE crowd. Nice with food thats not too spicy or meaty.

2014 Louis-Antoine Luyt Mission Pais de Yumbel, Bío-Bío Valley

For the AFWE crowd. Pale red/orange color. Nose had a distinctive “natural wine” note. Not sure what it is, but if you’ve had a bunch, you know what I mean. I like it, but its like decayed violet flowers, or something, with some earthy peat, strong orange peel, and some mint. Light body, light tannins, good acidity, tart red fruit, minerality, and some jalapeno.
This really started to open up and take on weight after an hour. 89, tasted 3/3/2017

2010 Viña González Bastías País Matorral, Maule Valley
This wine might be polarizing. Natural wine. Has a typical upfront frunk backed up with nice red fruit notes. Light bodied, low tannins, good acid. Very good wine, mostly red fruit, with good minerality and light green notes for complexity. Some earth started to sneak in after a while. 90. tasted 8/22/2016

and a mission/carignon blend that was iffy.

2015 Maitia Aupa Pipeño, maule Valley
Not sure about this one. Got better with air. Tart, sharp funk and candied red fruited on the nose. A weird sharp green nose… cut leaves? Mellow red fruit, moderate green notes, low tannins, moderate acid. Alot of tartaric acid crystal sediment., 85 tasted 10/17/2017, 80% Pais/20% Carignon

2015 Harrington Mission Somers Vineyard
This wine is pale brown/rose colored. Nose was tart red fruit, some earth, some heat. Highly reminiscent of ploussard or bio Pais. Light/medium body, good red fruits, strong acidity, moderate bitterness, good saline middle, and moderate drying tannins. Very primary of course, should be good for several more years. I really enjoyed this wine.
If you like Pais from S. America, Ploussard, Trousseau, you should like this. 90, tasted 4/28/2017

Vina Gonzalez Bastias Mattoral and Tinaja are both very good and coming from extremely old vines (200+ years). Another Chilean pais producer to try is Roberto Henriquez, he makes wine from Bio Bio. J. Bouchon is very good as well. Do I see pais taking off and being the next hot or cult grape? Probably not, but its very pleasing when made well and a great QPR.

Wow, Ken! You’ve had a good sampling! I just ordered a few bottles of J. Bouchon País Salvaje to try as you recommended it. Kinda cheap actually, just bugs me they have to ship it all the way from NY.

I know what you mean about flawed and bretty. I drank almost exclusively natural wines for a few years I still enjoy a lot of the expressions and fun there, but after awhile I found myself craving a little more purpose in the winemaking and less glou-glou. More structure and better winemaking. There are natural winemakers that do that (Coturri etc), but a lot of them are so small they just ship the product straight after fermentation to recoup their investment, basically. Can’t blame them, winemaking is expensive, but not always wine that goes with stuff. My Mission is also naturally fermented and low intervention, but I’ve made it in a classic way and with longer elevage.

I think a few of the Pais producers in Chile, like Luyt and Bichi, do a lot of natural wines from that grape. And when they work they can be amazing fun, but with really low or no SO2 levels in the winemaking, you always take a bit of risk and they’re often flawed.

Good tip - will try to get som Roberto Henriquez!

Keep 'em coming!

It’s a little absurd that a low acid, low anthocyanin grape like mission should become sought after in natural wine circles. I’ve found that the most resilient wines in the cellar (those that therefore can get by with the least intervention) are generally high acid, high in natural anti-oxidants and grown in soils with a lot of calcium (or bottled with dissolved CO2). I’ve seen a few natural winemakers figure that out… anyway, that might be part of the ‘bit of risk’ you’re taking.

Think there’s definitely a little anti-authoritarian streak in that community, making wines from grapes that are outliers. They seem to pick early to combat some of the problems you mention, but may introduce other problems. I purposefully didn’t pick that early with the Mission last year, because I wanted something different.

Heard great things about your wines, but haven’t had the pleasure yet. I look forward to it! [cheers.gif]

BTW, just opened the Garage Wine Co 2016 Pais. Rather nice. A little hot on the pallet, and a little low on fruit, but overall pleasant. Surprisingly deep color. Like a mid range Pinot. Honestly, in a blind test I would have called it out as a Pinot. But I suck at those anyway.

Adam - the wines you’ve tried have been made by careful and interested wine makers. The “Mission Grape” was generally carried about because it was hardy, productive, and relatively resistant to a lot of pests and disease. I’ve had some iterations from Chile and Argentina, but only because those are made by people like Harrington, etc. My guess is also that a lot of the vineyards in the US are not new plantings; those that I’ve had from SA aren’t.

As to where it got its reputation for being second-rate, my guess is that sentiment comes from several places. First, the wine making at the various missions where it was grown probably wasn’t all that great. Second, even where it was grown in Spain, the wines weren’t considered anything extraordinary. It was a grape the grew and produced well so they went with it for that reason, not because it made an brilliant wine. Third, the people who wanted to make good wine in the New World in the 1800s were more interested in grapes that had respect in Europe and that usually meant France or maybe Germany. Still does to many people. Fourth, it wasn’t planted in sites that were carefully and thoughtfully selected.

I’m sure there are some other reasons as well. That said however, I think it’s great the people are working with it and giving it a shot rather than simply trying to make more Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cab, etc. Those that I’ve had are pretty interesting in a way that another formulaic Cab isn’t. So I applaud your efforts and look forward to trying your wines at some point! [cheers.gif]

Mission was one of three grapes the Spanish first brought to South America. (Btw, I heard it was fairly common in Spain until relatively recently, like mid-20th century, where it lost out to an increase in quality and/or fad.) The California Missionaries got it from missionaries in Peru, where it was the one that worked there, so it was the only option to them. (The name Rose of Peru is a reference to that.)

It worked very well as a fortified wine. When the American settlers came to this part of Mexico, they replicated what the padres were making. This continued after the “revolution”, where large areas like the Los Angeles basin were heavily into Angelica production as an export product. Basically, much of where it was planted worked just fine for fortified wine production (some of which were considered world-class). Winemakers who played with these grapes in the 1960s and '70s concluded it was a shit grape. Part of that may be site. Surely, a lot of it is winemaking…

We did research into what was being done with best best ones we tried. Carbonic and/or whole cluster. We did batches thusly, as well as more conventional (to contemporary California). The conventional sucked. The winner was a 50/50 blend of carbonic and whole cluster. Bottle it as early as possible, then channel it to restaurants and consumers, where it gets mostly consumed within the year as a fun, very expressive light red. Eric’s note above is beyond the “drink by” date. Interesting comments there, as the wine was intended to highlight the primary complexity, but there is a lot of “stuff” that could evolve into something also good…or awkward or bad. Guess we’ll find out, since I have a few buried bottles.

I’ve heard they can no longer find the Mission/Listan varietal in continental Europe. Story is it was wiped out by phylloxera and is now considered extinct there. I’m sure it’s actually not, it’s just that ampelography is not always precise and unless you DNA test every wine, they’re hard to categorize. Interestingly, producer Torres has for almost four decades tried to discover rare Spanish varieties and has so far saved over 50 varieties thought to be extinct. I’m sure there’s some Listan Prieto lurking somewhere behind an old barn in Spain somewhere, it just hasn’t been found yet.

Like GregT said, they probably chose it for the long journeys to the New World because it was hardy and vigorous, more than anything else. But I do think it has potential to produce excellent wines, just needs the right vinification and fruit. But that’s also true for any other number of under-appreciated varietals. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your view) winemaking skills and techniques tend to be concentrated on varietals that have customer demand. We can argue that that demand stems from their superiority, but I’m not sure it actually does. If we really put the same effort in winemaking into Colombard as we do with Chardonnay, who’s to say it can’t be equally as good?

Fascinating thread! Thanks, Adam, Wes, Ian, Ken and everyone.

Tried this last weekend:
2. Bichi Listan Tacate/BajaCalif/MX (12.5%; U; www.JosePastorSelections) Tellez & Luyt/Tecate 2016: Light garnet bit browning rather cloudy/murky color; quite pretty floral/rose petal rather spicy/cinammon light pencilly/old oak some earthy/dusty/OV very fragrant/attractive nose rather soft/underacid/fat some old oak/pencilly very strong floral/rose petal slight natty/coarse/rustic rather earthy/dusty/OV some tangy/mature complex flavor w/ light coarse/tangy tannins; very long floral/rose petal/spicy/cinammon slight natty/mousey/hantavirus finish w/ light tangy tannins; very lovely/attractive floral nose but a bit too natty/hantavirus/unclean on the palate for my taste.
Next day: Bit more browning in color; still some pretty/Mission/rose petal aromatics but the natty/hantavirus character showing in the nose; very light floral/rose petal rather natty/hantavirus flavor w/ a dreadful mousey/natty/hantavirus/stale mouse poop finish that went on & on for several minutes; difficult to extinguish that foul taste left in the mouth even w/ sparkling water; maybe the foulest wine I have ever tasted. $23.00 (KK)

A wee BloodyPulpit:

  1. “Bichi” means “naked” in the Sonoran dialect. It reflects that Bichi produces “natural” wines, since 2014. From 100 yo vines. Fermeted in large tinajas. Bttld w/ 10 ppm SO2.
    When tasted as a P&P, the aromatics demonstrated what a pretty wine Mission (Listan Prieta) can give, in the right hands. These were not the right hands for this wine.
    When I tasted it the naxt day, it was probably the foulest wine I’ve ever tasted. The hantavirus was not an aftertaste you could get rid of. The wine is definitely headed South at a breakneck pace. I will probably buy another btl and age it for a few yrs just to find out how really bad this wine will become.

Thanks Tom!

Concluding my CA Mission sampling was the 2017 Story Mission. As far as I know, I have now had all the Missions produced in the state except for Rajat Parr’s Pais (but please let me know if you know of anyone else I’ve missed). Wine was pleasant enough, but a little hot and ended quite flabby. Nice fruits on the nose and not unpleasant otherwise, but the flabbiness bothered me. So I measured it: 3.99pH. Pretty high. If that had been brought down to maybe 3-6-3.7 and the hotness could have been addressed (too much SO2?), it would have been very good.

A week after I’d ordered the bottles, I got an email from the owner of Story, Jan Tichenor, saying they’ve sold the winery to a new owner, David Dediachvilli and 8 Millennium Wines. He’s a winemaker and businessman from Georgia (the country). I hope they will continue to produce and refine these old Mission vines into great wines and not rip them out.

Also tried the J. Bouchon País Salvaje Ken recommended. Very smoky and peppery (reminded me of the one I’d had from Bastias), almost like there was a little chili in it. Ended a little flabby and perhaps a with some metallic/thin notes? Not a bad go, but not as good as Harrington’s, Broc or Sandlands efforts.

TN: 2018 Cara Sur Criolla. One of the most expressive ones I’ve had and my first ever from Argentina. Very little of that pepperiness I get with the Chilean ones, but lots of fruit and a powerful mid. Light colored, like most Missions, but an underlying strength that belies the lightness in color. And a great bargain here in the US, too. Under $20.


Just had Las Mercedes 2017 Pais Maule Valley
Here is a picture of the harvest

Also there was a session at Texsom that showed
2107 Garage Secano Interior Portezuelo Maule Valley
2017 Vina Gonzalez Bastias Maule Valley
2017 Rogue Vine Grand Itata Tinro Itata Valley

“Las Mercedes” is one of several País bottlings from J. Bouchon - I’ve haven’t tried that one, but I’ve had some very good ones from them, with my favorite being their “País Salvaje”. I’ve their “País Viejo” too but prefer the “Salvaje” bottling. They also make a “País Salvaje Bianco”, which I haven’t tried. According to their website: “País Salvaje is made from grapes that come from wild vines that grew freely among the wild flora of the Mingre de Viña Bouchon estate, in the coastal dryland of Maule”. Lots of photos of harvesting grapes from vines that have grown up trees on the Bouchon website: FotosPhotos – Pais Salvaje

We picked up a País from the producer Garage Wine Co., their 2017 “215 BC Ferment”. 92 points Vinous.

Is that the one they blend with a small amount of Carignan or Carmenere? Or is it 100% Pais?

According to this, just Pais;