Welcome to another in the series of winemaker interviews.
Aurelio Montes - chairman and head winemaker with over 25 years experience at the Undurraga and San Pedro wineries in Chile. It was back in 1987 that Aurelio realised Chilean wineries were not aiming for quality. They were happy to make average wine to sell for an average price. Aurelio knew that the future was to craft high-quality wines.
I have known and enjoyed working with 'Montes' wines for over 20 years - sharing the journey and the vision Aurelio has to deliver to each and every one of his wine enthusiasts worldwide, the satisfaction engaged in tasting a first class Chilean wine, true to its terroir and a dramatic sensory experience.
What first attracted you to the wine industry and as a winemaker?
I discovered Eonology while I was studying Agronomy at the Catholic University in Santiago de Chile. I thought it was so appealing - and here I am - still loyal to my love at first sight.
Where and when did you study winemaking?
It was in the ninety seventies, at the Catholic University in Santiago de Chile.
What is your favourite grape variety(s) to work with and why?
Cabernet Sauvignon - it is a challenging variety, and the most elegant of all.
Which grape variety would you most like to work with in the future and why?
I love Syrah as a new challenge - it creates fruity wines, with lots of personality, and they are easy to drink and enjoy.
With each new vintage what do you most look forward to?
To a long and dry summer so to achieve the perfect phenolic ripeness...
To date what has been you most interesting/challenging vintage and why?
The 2002 vintage, as it was wet, cold and rainy, a real challenge for all of us to overcome...
Which person has influenced you the most as a winemaker and why?
My 5 years working with Michel Rolland as co-partners in Lapostolle operation in Chile.
Which person ‘current’ or ‘past’ would you most like to have met or meet and why?
Robert Mondavi - he was a great personality for the Californian wine industry.
If you were stranded on a desert island and you could take one bottle of wine with you – what would it be and why?
It would be 'Purple Angel' 2005 from Montes. It was one of the best years - a wine with elegance and power.
If you could make wine anywhere else in the world – where would it be and why?
In Portugal - great local grape varieties - great terroir and unbeatable landscape...
What advice would you give a young person starting out as a winemaker?
Work, work and more work.
If you weren’t a winemaker - what would you like to be and why?
I would be an actor - it is my unfulfilled dream.
In the future, what exciting changes can you see, or would like to see for your wines, wine styles, vineyard or winery?
Find new ‘terroirs’ in this blessed land called Chile.
Montes Wines are available in New Zealand and around the world from quality wine retailers and restaurants. Or visit their website: Montes Wines