martes, 17 de junio de 2014

In the land of Pisco... The Lords of Pisco Don Domingo Elias

Pisco /Peru more than 400 years of History & Tradition (1613-2013).

By. Eduardo Dargent Chamot

My studies on Pisco through the years allow me to say that the most
influential person in the development of our national drink, Pisco, during the XIX Century was Domingo Elias, a gentleman born in Ica in 1805 who was committed to Peru in many ways. He was involved in business, politics, industry and agriculture. Soon after finishing high school he traveled to Spain and France where he completed his education. In 1825 Elias returned to Peru and dedicated himself to agriculture. However, the circumstances of the times got him involved in national politics.  He was the Prefect of Lima during the government of José Antonio de Vivanco, and was left in charge of the presidency when Vivanco had to leave the capital to fight General Ramón Castilla. After serving as head of several “Ministerios” he became member of parliament representing Ica and later the diplomatic agent of Peru in Bolivia. Thanks to him the first National Budget Law of Perú was passed and the peace treaty with Bolivia  after the Confederation and the war was signed.

In regards to education, Elias was the founder of Colegio Guadelupe, which had as director the Spanish educator Sebastian Lorente. Don Domingo run for President against Echenique but lost and When the scandals of the “Consolidación” became evident, he pointed out that  the money earned from the  guano exports would not last forever. In 1854 Elias sided with Ramón Castilla and fought against Echenique until he was defeted. After the victory of Castilla Elias went to France for two years and only returned in 1858, again as a presidential candidate but after his new defeat he retired definitely from politics and dedicated himself entirely to agriculture until his death in 1867.

Until  now I have been following Alberto Tauro del Pino, whose “Illustrated Encyclopedia on Peru” is a fundamental piece for the understanding of national figures. Now I will highlight don Domingo’s activities in the area of our main interest.

Mr. Tauro, in his summaries about Elias agricultural contributions to Ica states “Upon his return (1825), he dedicated himself to agriculture, and, motivated by a driving business spirit, begun the large scale plantation of cotton, improved grapevine fields, and began to produce pisco instead of wines.”

These efforts were so important that the foreign travelers that visited Pisco during those years could not avoid stating their admiration for his achievements.

Jacob Von Tshudi, the Swiss scientist who traveled throughout Peru between 1838 and 1842, wrote his impressions of the city of Pisco in one of his books. He stated that the port “is only a sort of key for the great city of Ica,” and explained that what gave the city such importance were its white destilate exports.

In regards to the active and important decision of Domingo Elias to produce pisco, Von Tshudi stated in regard to the port’s facilities:
“Along the shore is the customs house with the Capitan of the Port and the impresive buildings constructed by Mister Elias for his pisco company.”

Von Tshudi spared no effort in praising Domingo Elias, who he called, “The richest, best businessman, and most circumspect of all the landowners of the coast.” And in regards to his wines, he stated that Elias had prepared a sort of European wine, which reminded him of the “wines of Madeira and Tenerife,” but it had a stronger proof and “has more fire.”

British “Peruanista” Clemens Markham was in Pisco during his second trip to Peru in 1853, and during that trip, he visited Elias’ bodegas where he had the opportunity to try the local wine destilate and was impressed, noting that “the best ‘aguardiente’, the Italia, is made of a large white grape, which is delicious.”

Another visitor who was impressed by Domingo Elias’ industry during his travels through Peru was the Frenchman Alfredo Leubel, who visited the port of Pisco in 1860. Although his references are centered on the wines, he stated that Elias had offices and large scale barrel-making shops. He also mentioned that Elias had personnel who was brought specially from the island of Madeira, which ensured that the only wine to be exported was Madeira wine. Leubel mentions that two-thirds of Elias’ production was exported to France, England and the United States, while the wines and other products of the valley were “wines only for the local consumption, but of very high quality.” In the Pisco port bodegas, wine made of “pure grapes” without any mixtures, was left to rest and that quality caught Leubel’s attention.

Aside from the specialized barrel-making, Leubel also stated that thanks to a “reform” that was recently introduced by Elias in regards to production. (the reform consisted of heating a stove in the area where the wines were stored). The aging effect was achieved in a short period of time. Or, as Leubel stated “[the wine] acquires the natural age that time normally gives it,” and after a year and a half, “can advantageously be exported.” The conclusion that the Frenchman reached was that Elias’ wine “had gained much, and could be perfect sustitut for Sherry.”

Yet another visitor who was impressed by Elias’ work was the British traveler Warren. In naval historian Fernando Romero Pintado’s book on the naval history of the republic from 1850 to 1870, he mentions that Warren considered Domingo Elias as the principal landowner in the Pisco area, and quotes Warren’s judgment about don Domingo’s: character:
    His vineyards are very extensive, and aside from his Italia grape distilleries, he possesses large wine bodegas that are under the supervision of experienced European winers who produce very well selected products: from Madeira and Sherry wines to Amontillado.

But don Elias’ work was not only recognizeded in his advances and positive reforms in order to achieve better wines and piscos nor were these developments mentioned only in the traveler´s memories.

On December 4, 1864, the government passed a circular resolution to the Prefects of the Departments of Arequipa, Moquegua and Ancash, informing them of the State´s interest in the development of the wine industry in the country. The resolution explained that although wine plantations and wine production were prevalent in the country, they had not been able to compete alongside large international producers due to a lack of knowledge and technique. Since the President was aware that an increase in the production of this crop and industry could bring many benefits to the country, he had hired Evaristo d’Ornellas to review the situation.

Here too the hand of don Domingo can be seen. D’Ornelas was an oenologist from one of Elias’ companies and his participation in the project is due to Elias’ interest in agriculture in general, and specifically vineyards. This was his generous contribution in direct support of the country’s development. Proof of this is the fact that the contract signed between the d´Ornelas and the government specifies that, although he must travel through the wine producing valleys of the country, and even travel abroad in search of materials and information, he was not compelled to leave his work in don Elias’ companies.

Peruvians, such as Domingo Elias, who introduced capital and technology without risking the traditional value of our grape destilate, made the development of the Pisco industry in the XIXth Century possible.

Translated by Eduardo Dargent Chamot.

Pisco bilingual magazine

domingo, 8 de junio de 2014

In the land of Pisco... Pisco Cocktails

Pisco / Peru more tan 400 years of History & Tradition (1613-2013).

Translated by Katrina Heimark

We would like to thank Mr. Enrique Vidarte Morales, the head of the Bar at Cala Restaurant for allowing us to publish his recipes.

Carrot Martini
Method: Beaten
Serving Glass:  10oz Martini

2.5 oz. Carrot Extract
3   oz. Pisco Italia
1   oz  Cane Syrup
0.5 oz. Lime juice
Ice cubes
Decoration: Carrot slices, placed inside the glass.

Method: Liquefied:
Serving Glass: Margarita

2.5  oz. Pisco Torontel
12 – 15 Spearmint leaves
30 – 35 grams of Sugar
0.5 oz. Lime zest
Crushed Ice
Decoration: A Sprig of Spearmint

Strawberry Collins
Method: Direct
Serving Glass: Long

2.5 oz. Pisco Acholado with Strawberries
0.25 oz. Lime juice
0.25 oz. Cane Sugar
Sliced Strawberries
Largue Ice cubes
Complete the drink with sparkling wáter

Pisco bilingual magazine