Clos des Fous is an exciting project between four Chilean friends: Pedro Parra (the viticulturalist, also credited for discovering many of the top vineyard sites across Chile), François Massoc and Paco Leyton (the winemakers), and Albert Cussen, who looks after the business. ‘Fous’ is the French word for ‘crazy men’, a reference to what their peers described as their ‘craziness’ in crossing the traditional vineyard boundaries of Chile to source grapes from vineyards in the extreme conditions further south and east.
The winery is based in Maule and this wine is a blend of two different vineyards, both in the Alto Cachapoal D.O. This is a cold, high altitude area of the Andes mountain range, with a glacial climate, which gives the grapes a natural high acidity, and less sun exposure. The first vineyard has a coluvial soil – a sandy clay – which is very deep and full of volcanic rocks and pebbles that allows for very deep root development. The second vineyard is the Grillos Cantores vineyard, which has soil made up of an alluvial mix of gravel with limestone.
The Chardonnay ‘Locura 1’ is sourced from the volcanic and alluvial soils of the Coya vineyard in Cachapoal. Situated 26 km deep into the Andes, at nearly 1,000 m. in altitude, Coya is Chile’s highest vineyard and the cooler temperatures and longer growing season give verve to the wine. Pedro Parra explains: ‘The name is because we wanted to not follow the Chilean mainstream idea about Coastal chardonnay. We wanted to get higher natural acid.’ The key to this has been to move the plantings away from the fertile plains and up the slopes into the Andean and Coastal ranges, where the rockier soils result in lower vine vigour and deeper roots, which gives better balance and more finesse to the wines.