Women in Wine: Argentina

Twenty years ago, it was hard-won to find a female working in the wine industry in Argentina, let alone a female winemaker. But today women are taking their place in the sector and this year’s Argentina Wine Awards boasted an all-female tasting panel, bringing to light the role that many of the fairer sex now play in the industry. This feature for The Drinks Business … Continue reading Women in Wine: Argentina

Interview with Robert Kamen, Kamen Estate

Interview for Wine-Searcher You grew up in the city projects in the Bronx. How did you end up as a California winemaker? I sold my first screenplay to Warner for $135,000 in 1979. I called my friend to celebrate and came down to Sonoma to meet him. We bought some wine, rolled some joints and came up here [to the vineyard]. There was no road … Continue reading Interview with Robert Kamen, Kamen Estate

10 winemakers to watch in Chile

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 16.19.43For The Drinks Business, September 2014 edition
Read the full feature: Chilea Winemakers to Watch DB Sep 14

CHILE IS well-known for the concentration of its wine production, allowing the country to make consistent wine at competitive prices. But emerging is a new wave of boutique projects and new styles from the full length and breath of the country, resulting in original blends from little- known places.

The source of such novelty is a broad range of personalities, all of whom are driven by a desire to celebrate Chile’s vinous diversity. Over the following pages is a selection of 10 winemakers to watch, each chosen for their creative and critically-acclaimed approach.

 

 

Marcelo RetamalMARCELO RETAMAL

Retamal is not new, but even after 20 years filling bottles he is still at the forefront of Chile’s wine innovations. Retamal became head winemaker of De Martino winery straight after university in 1996 and since then has made wines in over 350 vineyards in Chile, executed a 12 year terroir hunt across the span of the country, and made a huge U-turn in winemaking techniques that sparked a new trend in Chile.

“My problem started in 2007, because the owner and I didn’t like our wines”, he explains, commenting on how flying winemakers and international buyers had swayed Chile into a ripe and oaky style from the early noughties. “They were correct, with softness, high alcohol and lots of oak. But we wanted to create a wine with more drinkability, more fruit and not much oak or alcohol… so we started to work very strongly in this direction. More than new things, it is rediscovering the old ways.”

His return to “old ways” include using only native yeast, no added enzymes or tartaric acid, earlier harvests, aging in old Chilean earthenware jars, and zero new oak. It is not just his winemaking that sets him apart. His commitment to finding new viticulture areas and rediscovering others keeps him on the cusp…

Read more Chilea Winemakers to Watch DB Sep 14

 

Andrea LeonANDREA LEON

When a young winemaker is given their own personal line at a Michel Rolland winery, you know that they are doing something right. Andrea León has worked for Lapostolle (the family behind Grand Marnier) since 2004, winemaking with their high profile consultant Rolland in the biodynamic Apalta winery. However when her own personal style began to diverge from Rolland’s, Lapostolle gave León the freedom to develop her own range, which is now one of the most interesting collections in Chile. León produces an adventurous terroir series of seven Syrahs from around Chile, three Carmenères, and a few less common varieties including Muscat, Petit Verdot, Mourvedre, Carignan and Grenache.

Her exploration in Syrah is on trend with what is becoming one of Chile’s most promising varieties, and León shows the potential of this versatile variety from coastal and mountainous regions of Elqui, Casablanca, San Antonio, Cachapoal and Colchagua…

Read more Chilea Winemakers to Watch DB Sep 14

Photo by Matt Wilson

f massoc closeFRANÇOIS MASSOC

François Massoc came back to Chile to make a wine that showed Chile was more than just “good value”. After years studying in France and, curiously, winemaking in an Israeli monastery, Massoc returned home to make wine with his best friends: terroir expert Pedro Parra and Louis-Michel Liger-Belair of Vosne- Romanée fame. “We are not making money with Aristos. It is very expensive to produce, but we want to prove that in Chile you can make a world class wine,” he says. The fact that their top wine is a Chardonnay, the solitary white in Chile’s over £40 club, also proves that Chile is not just a one-trick Cabernet pony, although they do also make an acclaimed Cabernet and are also working on a Pinot Noir.

 

While the small Aristos project is redefining Chile’s premium category, other Massoc projects reinforce his game- changing status. At Calyptra, he makes one of the few high-end Sauvignon Blancs that doesn’t come from the coast, but instead from the Andes and aged in custom-made barrels (Massoc was a cooper before a winemaker). His other project with Parra, Clos des Fous – madmen’s vineyard – is another venture to show that Chile doesn’t need to play by the same old rules…

Read more Chilea Winemakers to Watch DB Sep 14

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Interview with Alberto Antonini

An interview with flying winemaker and international consultant, Alberto Antonini. Interviewed for Casa de Uco.

Alberto Antonini

Why is the Uco Valley such an exciting wine region?

The location is by far the best valley in Mendoza. It’s where you get some very interesting calcareous spots and well drained soils, with warm days to ripen the fruit and cold nights to retain acidity – it’s the best for the freshness of the fruit. It’s very exciting now I understand the valley. Working with Pedro Parra (a terroir specialist) I understand why I like the characteristics there.

Do you remember making your own first wine?

My father was a teacher but I grew up on a farm, so I was making wine for fun as a hobby and had a passion for wine. The first wine I made was there.

The feeling? I was very happy. Since I was a child they were asking me what I wanted to be and I said I wanted to be a peasant and work on the land! Since I was 5 or 6 I said I wanted to be a redneck… If I wasn’t a winemaker I would like to grow apples.

I also have a lot of passion for music too but I don’t have talent to make a living from that!

I remember the first smell of the wines I tried, it was fascinating for a child. We made it in a very artisanal way. It was really a long time ago… it was 50 years ago…

How important is personal style in winemaking?

I don’t think it is… depending where the wines are from. If it’s a place that is very special you really do very little. I don’t want to affect the expression of the place. When people say less is more, I believe it is true.

To get to the point of doing less, you have to have the experience and confidence. I think it’s now I’m trying to let the grapes express their best. I don’t like it when people talk about a style of a winemaker, that’s when the wine has gone. The job is to do as little as possible.
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Q&A: Charlie Arturaola

IMG_1570Written for Wine-Searcher.com

Uruguayan Sommelier Charlie Arturaola was picked as Wine and Spirits Communicator of the Year in 2012 and stars in wine film El Camino del Vino among other TV appearances. He’s renowned for his bubbly personality and for having one of the top palates in the industry. 

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

I used to see a wine taster! I feel like the Robin Hood of wine these days. My mission until the day I die is that I need to bring better quality wine to young palates to open their senses and find out that you don’t need to spend $200 on a wine or buy a Grand Cru to say it’s a good wine. There’s a lot of good wine out there for $5 to $10.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?

My childhood was hard. My wife tells me not to say that… but my mother died very young. I didn’t end up in an orphanage, my father was such a great person in terms of trying to keep us together that he sent me to my Aunt’s house, which was very rigid and regimented!

My sister did a PHD in Biology and I got really into fermentation and bacteria, I was always into photosynthesis as a kid. My grandmother was great in the garden. I would escape from my Aunt to go with my grandmother to plant the garden! We’d plant tomatoes, parsley, lemon trees… you name it!

I suffered for not having my mother, but it pays back because after hours of British school, I learnt my languages and French. I lived in a very multi-cultural neighbourhood in Uruguay.

It was very limited in terms of coming from working class in the very hard times of Uruguay in the 70s or 80s… The only thing you want to do is survive and so I went to Europe when I was 19 and that changed my life – it opened my eyes.

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Chile Through a New Lens: Photographer Matt Wilson

Syrah smashWritten for WinesofChile.org

A world-renowned photographer is portraying Chile’s wine world in a new light. Former rock and skateboard photographer Matt Wilson might be the bad boy of wine photography, but his emotive pictures are certainly turning heads and gaining him accolades along the way.

The winner of the Born Digital Photography Wine Award 2012, has a refreshing approach to wine photography which moves away from staid barrel room portraits and tired landscape shots, instead focusing more on the characters of wine, the color of the landscapes and he frequently gets a winemaker to smash a bottle of wine against his head.

 

What’s the difference between photographing wine and rock ‘n’ roll? Not that much it turns out. “Wine is a lifestyle, and rock and roll is a lifestyle!” says Matt who also travelled the world with Hip Hop groups like The Roots, Mos Def and Method Man. Matt likes to photograph animated subjects though, and he does admit “musicians tend to be more animated than your average winemaker.”

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Q&A: Susana Balbo

Susana-Balbo-Malbec-Label-Malbec-Grapes-10001762-1355882115Susana Balbo is one of the most influential winemakers in Argentina. She produces wine under her own label, Dominio del Plata, and is also a consultant to a number of wineries in other New World countries. Amanda Barnes interviews her.

What was your first memory in wine?

My first memory is not actually mine, it’s told by my parents. In my family, wine is in our roots and in our culture. In my childhood, the beverage for kids was water with a drop of wine to taint the color. So my parents gave me a full glass of water with a few drops of wine, and it seems I liked it as a 3-year-old. They say they looked to the side and I was taking the bottle to pour a full glass of wine!

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

I feel comfortable with myself, so I am seeing a woman in her 50s who has crossed a very long way and works a lot – many hours a day. To be an entrepreneur, you have to work hard. But I am very pleased, I am happy.

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