Aurelio Montes - Winemaker Series:
Aurelio Montes - *(at the time with over 25 years’ experience as the head winemaker at the Undurraga and San Pedro wineries in Chile) realised back in 1987 that Chilean wineries were not aiming for quality. The industry was happy to make average wine to sell for an average price. Aurelio knew that the future was to craft high-quality wines.
Staring out was very tough, having to work day and night, consulting all over Chile for several years. Aurelio’s support from his wife and five children, plus his unweaving determination and persistence paid off. As in 1995, his colleagues granted him the 'Chilean Winemaker of the Year' award.
The SNA (National Agriculture Association) named him 'Personality of the Year 2002', an honour directly bestowed by the President of Chile. He has been a Wine Consultant for Fundación Chile (a Foundation created by ITT and the Chilean Government), for Casa Lapostolle, Echeverría, Santa Inés, San Carlos, Pisco Capel, amongst others. Aurelio Montes is widely renowned by the international wine trade and publications as one of the finest winemakers not only in Chile, but the world. Aurelio’s leadership brought a revolution to quality standards and his insight to discovering the affluent Apalta and Marchigüe valleys.
In 2016 Aurelio was very pleased to receive his 2nd 'Wine Star Award' from Wine Enthusiast. Aurelio won the Innovator / Executive of the Year Award for driving the charge to create high-quality, internationally competitive Chilean wines by pioneering the use of land and experimenting with progressive dry farming methods.
I have known and enjoyed working with 'Montes' wines for over 25 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.
The following is some background, influences, thoughts and insights during his inspirational & quality-focused winemaking career - here are some of his brief comments.
• What first attracted you to the wine industry and as a winemaker?
"I discovered Oenology 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..."
• When and where did you study winemaking?
"It was in the ninety seventies..., at the Catholic University in Santiago de Chile...."
• 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..."
• What is your favourite grape varietal(s) to work with and why?
"That would be Cabernet Sauvignon - it is a challenging variety, and the most elegant of them all..."
• Which grape variety would you most like to work with in the future and why?
"I love Syrah as a new challenge... - here in Chile 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 as to achieve the perfect phenolic ripeness..."
• To date what has been your most interesting / challenging vintage and why?
"That would be the 2002 vintage..., as it was wet, cold and rainy, a real challenge for all of us to overcome..."
• Which person ‘past’ or ‘present’ would you most like to meet and why?
"Robert Mondavi - he was a great personality for the Californian wine industry..."
• For your next birthday dinner - if you could open and enjoy any bottle of wine in the world ever-made - what would it be and why?
"He replies with a cheeky smile: It would be a bottle of '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?
"I have thought about this before, and it would be in Portugal... - they have great local grape varieties - great terroir and an 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?
With another smile - "I would be an actor - it is my unfulfilled dream…'with another smile'- who knows what the future holds..."
• In the future, what exciting changes can you see, or would like to see for you wines, vineyard or winery?
"There are a few exciting projects that we are currently developing / working on... - working with new ‘terroirs’ in this blessed land of ours called Chile..."
Where can you find Montes Wines:
Montes Wines 'setting a heavenly standard' are available in New Zealand and around the world from quality wine retailers, restaurants / wine bars and hotels. Or visit the Montes website - CLICK HERE.