Matt Ridgway (originally from Jamie’s home town of Sherborne in Dorset) & his wife Ana Cattan run La Despensa, a refreshingly unconventional, boutique winery (in the truest sense of the word) inspired by Matt’s love of the Rhone.
It all began in 2003 when Matt, a backpacking English teacher, arrived in Ecuador. He spent a few months there before asking his travel agent to ‘roll the dice’ and sell him a ticket to ‘anywhere in Latin America’. One $60 ticket letter and he landed in Buenos Aires, just as Argentina was emerging from its massive financial crash and external investment was beginning to pour in. He bought and flipped a couple of properties and became established as a property consultant for foreign investors. In 2007 he moved to Chile and started renovating historic mansions in Valpariso, before ending up in Colchagua in 2009 where he continued his consultancy, again helping foreigners buy property but this time mostly agricultural land.
In 2011 he bought his own piece of land in Santa Ana and renovated its earthquake-mangled, 100 year old adobe worker’s cottage. In 2013 he planted his vineyard (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, naturally) followed by Marselan, Cinsault, Roussanne, Viognier and Marsanne in 2016-17. He now produces 5-7 different wines per year, including a Cabernet Sauvignon from a friend’s high altitude vineyard and a Pais from rom one of Colchagua’s very last remaining old vine vineyards (150 years old).
Matt isn’t a fan of aged characters in wine, which is just as well because space in the winery is tight, requiring him to clear the last vintage before he bottles the next one. Consequently the house style is one of primary fruit immediacy and super silky tannins.
Cold Shower - Mission Impaissible
Dry farmed (on about 12” of rain a year) old vine Pais aged in flexitank to ensure maximum freshness and no oak influence. The Old vine Pais is at least 120 years old, most likely 150+, and comes from one of the very few remaining old vine Pais vineyards in Colchagua. Pais is of course known as ‘Mission’ in the US, hence the name. Whilst Maule boasts 3000+ ha of old vine Pais there are barely 40ha left in Colchagua, so much so that producers aren’t allowed to declare it – hence the name ‘Cold Shower’, which sounds uncannily like ‘Colchagua’ if you’re not paying attention. Only 2,500 bottles produced.
A hedonistic blend of Grenache, Syrah & Mourvèdre plus an additional dollop of Marselan that’s added after the malolactic fermentation – although this also can’t be declared as it’s not a permitted variety in the DO. All the fruit is from Matt’s own, organic vineyard and is co-fermented only using native yeasts. The wine is then aged for a further six months before release, so the wine is refined but still fresh.