Views from an Argentinian winemaker: Aurelio Montes Jr.

Interviews
Typography

By Penn Live

This post began a couple weeks ago with a note from Jennifer O'Flanagan of Feast PR, a Brooklyn-based marketing and public relations consultancy specializing in building fine wine, beer, and spirits brands through a personal storytelling approach that connects with target trade and consumers.

She wrote: Aurelio Montes Jr. is making waves as winemaker of Kaiken Winery in Argentina, the son of Aurelio Montes Sr. of the acclaimed Montes Winery in Chile. After taking over the reins from his father at the Argentine estate in 2012, he has evolved the style of wines to be leaner and more terroir driven, and is expanding the exploration of Biodynamic Viticulture at the main estate in Mendoza. Aurelio believes that Argentina has potential to produce much more than Malbec – and produces a beautiful Terroir Series Torrontes from Salta, Terroir Series Sauvignon Blanc from Gualtallary, a beautiful Terroir Series Malbec blend with Bonarda and Petit Verdot, as well as the hallmark Ultra Malbec and Ultra Cabernet Sauvignon. He's also experimenting with a range of other grapes, and will introduce a Cabernet Franc in 2016.

Originally constructed in 1930, Kaiken Winery features original stone/Spanish construction, cement tanks, and wine paintings by contemporary local artist Mema Hannom. This "nest" of production harmoniously features Feng Shui environmental and atmospheric elements including chiming bells and Gregorian chants playing in the cellar, the placement of tanks toward the east, and a golden painting at the west side of the winery, symbolizing the setting sun. A statue of Virgen de la Carrodilla (a mythological Spanish figure renowned locally as the wine virgin) stands outside of the winery to guard over and bless the fruit cultivated here.

Kaiken offers several lines of wine: The flagship Ultra line showcases bold yet elegant and expressive Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. The new Terroir Series line – featuring Torrontes, a Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec/Petit Verdot blend and a Malbec/Bonarda/Petit Verdot blend – showcases the teams' recent focus on producing wines from wild new regions and varieties beyond Malbec.

Assisted by O'Flanagan, the following is an interview with Montes Jr. Thanks to O'Flanagan and the others who have worked with me on these interviews with winery owners and winemakers from around the globe. I think it would be fun moving forward to engage regional winemakers to provide the questions, adding a valuable dimension to this series of interviews.

Question, Two things before we talk about what you're doing now. The changes you made after you took over, were they largely done in the vineyard or the cellar?
(Read More)