Aurelio Montes Jr. practically vibrates with passion and enthusiasm when talking about Argentina.
He says it is impossible not to be “a little in love with the wine, the people and the lifestyle of Argentina.”
The son of legendary Chilean winemaker Aurelio Montes, he knows a special place when he sees it. Montes grew up around the wine business and formally studied agriculture in Chile, then worked in vineyards in Australia, France and the U.S.
Moving across the Andes, Montes is now the producer of the line of wines from Argentina called Kaiken, focused on showcasing elegant wines that express the sense of place where they are grown.
Montes is enchanted with the rich history of winemaking in Argentina. Spanish conquistadors brought grapes to the country in the 16th century. Since then, other countries and winemakers have influenced the traditions that are in place today. Montes says that one only has to look at the grape-trellising to see French and Italian influences.
He is excited about exploring the growing regions of Argentina. From the ancient vineyards in Cafayate, where the grape variety Torrentes thrives, to the sun-drenched vineyards in Mendoza, he is searching out places where grapes grow best.
“Winemakers are not magicians,” he says. “There are no good winemakers in the world, only good grapes.” There is still a lot to learn about Argentina, he says. As winemakers, “we really don't know anything yet.”
Years ago at a conference about the wine business, I remember a speaker paraphrasing a famous quote: “Argentina is a sleeping giant, with its enormous natural resources and rich winemaking history. One day, this giant will awaken.”
Perhaps that day is here. Despite the long winemaking history in Argentina, Montes says, this country with so much formidable potential has yet to show what it can do.
If Montes’ excellent wines are any indication, we'd all do well to keep a place in our cellars and our hearts for the wines from Argentina.
Catherine Rabb is co-owner of Fenwick's and a senior instructor at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte. Email: Catherine.email@example.com
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