The oldest grape varieties in South America have been sidelined for the past hundred years, but a new generation is now reclaiming its lost winemaking heritage as Criolla varieties re-emerge from the shadows. Amanda Barnes has the inside story...
When the Spanish first conquered the Americas in the 1500s, they brought the holy trinity of cultivars – olive trees, wheat and grapevines. Whether planted as sticks or seeds, the first grapes to grow were known as the Criolla, or Mission, varieties: a select handful of varieties picked for their highyielding and resilient nature, and destined to conquer the New World.
Of these founding varieties, which included Moscatel, Pedro Ximénez and Torontel, the most important was a red grape commonly known as Listán Prieto in Spain, Mission in the US, País in Chile, Criolla Chica in Argentina and some 45 other synonyms in-between.
Scroll down for Barnes’ top 10 South American Criolla wines to try