What do you see when you look in the mirror?
That I should drink more wine to get younger. Not to excess, but I have to drink wine every year to maintain my youth.
What’s your first memory to do with wine?
When I was five I helped my grandfather pick grapes. He had a big house with vines all over the roof and he used me to pick the grapes in the smaller gaps. We’d put the grapes in big sacks, then crush them with our feet to make ‘vino patero.’
Was there a turning point in your career?
I had two very important harvests when I started to produce Château La Violette in France. Everybody can make wine but the idea is to make the wine that you want to. Two thousand and five was a beautiful harvest in France — the perfect year, perfect conditions. But I didn’t feel I could do anything more than represent the climate in the wine. Two thousand and six was a breakthrough because it was a difficult harvest in France and we were doing a new technical vinification, but I started to understand what wine I wanted to make. Powerful, but elegant. I started to understand how I can produce elegant wine with my personality.
You make wine in both France and Argentina. What are the advantages and disadvantages of vinification in each country?
I can’t say I have disadvantages because I am very fortunate to make two harvests a year. It’s a dream for me. In France there is a lot of difference between vineyards and we have more climate influence than in Argentina. I have to adapt my technique to the climatic conditions, and to make wine you have to know what’s happening during pruning, spring and summer. I don’t live in France so I have a lot of respect for the people who live there. Every year when I arrive I try to talk with all my neighbors, because they know the reality of the year.
I have worked 12 harvests there but I’m still a foreigner and you always have to listen to the old men. I learned maybe a bit more in France than here. I was born here and I live here so I know the land more, but you still always have to talk and work with the people who work the vineyards. It’s a big team.
Is there such a thing as luxury wine?
We don’t have luxury wines in Argentina yet … maybe we will in some years, like a hundred! A luxury wine is a wine to collect, but a luxury for me is when I can drink a good wine in the best moment. My best moment is enjoying it with my wife, my family and my friends; and I dream about when I will drink my wine with my son and daughter — that will be my luxury wine.
What is it you most dislike in a wine?
I dislike tasting malbec from Argentina without our personality. I can’t understand tasting malbec without sweet tannins, or floral notes. Our style is a continental climate and it is completely different to the oceanic climate.