For Pedro Parra the purest expression of his passionate devotion to terroir is Clos des Fous, his collaboration with Francois Massoc, Paco Leyton, and Albert Cussen. Although the project is based in Pedro's home region of Bio Bio, 500km south of Santiago, the focus is not limited to making wines from Bio Bio: rather the idea is to discover (or rediscover) and celebrate great unknown terroirs throughout Chile - a vast and endlessly varied country - that is full of the vibrancy, uniqueness, and untapped potential. Clos des Fous is an immensely exciting project, focused on the revitalization of very old dry farmed vineyards and the planting of new vineyards in the most dramatic and challenging conditions imaginable. This is as cutting edge as it gets anywhere in the world, combining extreme viticulture, organic and biodynamic farming, and non-interventionist winemaking to reveal the true potential of the country Hugh Johnson has called 'the most blessed in the world' for winegrowing. Clos des Fous is the vanguard of the New Chile, with old-vine heritage varieties (including malbec, pais, carignan, and cinsault), as well as international varieties from an incredible range of unknown terroirs, from Itata and Malleco to Cauquenas and Alto Cachapoal.
Pedro Parra was born in Concepcion, southern Chile in 1969, literally and figuratively far removed from the small circle of Chile's powerful cultural elite in Santiago who dominate wine - and everything else - in the country. A jazz lover as a teenager, he dreamt of being a sax player in Paris. In the end he took a different path, studying precision agriculture at Montpellier and obtaining a PhD from the Institut National Agronomique Paris-Grignon. His special skill, unique in the world of wine, is his ability to 'taste rocks', combining a thorough knowledge of soils, geology, geomorphology, climate, viticulture, and oenology with a highly refined palate, honed by years of working and tasting in Burgundy. No one in the history of wine has spent more time studying 'calicatas' (the pits he digs in vineyards - he has dug an astonishing 22,000 in his relatively brief career); no one has thought more deeply about the connections between terroir and the structure, aroma, and flavour of wine, or contributed more to the new science of precision viticulture. His ability to predict the characteristics of yet unmade wine based on his observations of the depth, complexity, and porosity of soil in various parts of a vineyard is simply mind boggling.
François Massoc (a native Chilean despite his French name), uniquely both a trained Oenologist and Cooper, oversees the day to day winemaking. There is a profound Burgundian influence: François spent 6 years working in Burgundy with Mounir Saouma of Lucien Le Moine and Louis-Michel Liger-Belair of Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair. Louis-Michel is François partner in the ambitious Aristos project, along with Pedro Parra, who continues to be actively involved at Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair in Vosne-Romanée. The talent and attention to detail behind the wines is quite literally second none - Tim Atkin MW has called their collaboration 'potentially the most exciting wine project in the Southern hemisphere' - yet the goal is simple: to produce the purest possible representation of Chilean terroir.
Lovers of classic jazz will appreciate the label, designed by Pedro himself - a tribute to the great 1950's Blue Note LPs that have always been an inspiration to him.