Edgardo del Popolo is the head viticulturist for Argentina’s Viña Doña Paula, located in the southern portion of Mendoza. Del Popolo, 43, likes to joke that he came with the furniture when the Claro family (owners of Chile’s Viña Santa Rita) bought the property from the Gancia operation in 1998.
“I was there with all the old machines, so they decided to keep me,” said the soft-spoken del Popolo as we sat down for a chat here in my office earlier this week. Despite his mellow demeanor, del Popolo is passionate about the terroir in Mendoza, an aspect of the country’s wine industry that he agrees has been underutilized so far.
To that end, del Popolo is going against the grain as he develops and fine-tunes the vineyards at Doña Paula’s various estates. While most Argentine wineries talk of large temperature swings between day-time highs and night-time lows as a key to ripening grapes in Argentina’s warm, arid climate, del Popolo is looking for cooler spots with narrower swings and is blending grapes from different sites.
This is the second part of what will be an ongoing series here in my blog, as I taste verticals of wines that have the ability to age 10 years or more, without breaking the bank. Here, we’ll take a look at a wine from a glamour appellation, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but from a domaine that may not be as sought-after as some of the appellation’s best-known producers, in this case Clos des Brusquières. I tasted 11 vintages of this excellent value wine, from 1999 to 1969; here are my tasting notes.
When Adam Mason took over the winemaking at South Africa’s Klein Constantia, it was his first full-time winemaking job. “I was filling big shoes at the time,” says Mason 36. Mason has filled those shoes admirably while cutting his own path along the way. In particular, he’s taken the winery’s flagship dessert wine, Vin de Constance, to new levels in the ’04 and ’05 vintages. A recent vertical tasting showed that Mason has made changes and improved a wine that is arguably the country’s top sweet wine.
I sat down with Jean-Pierre Durand to discuss the merger between Laroche and Jeanjean in France, which creates the fifth-largest wine producer in the country. Durand, after 20 years on the business side of the company, is now looking forward to getting more directly involved with the company's Rhône vineyards.
I give my recommendations on where to eat when traveling to the Rhone Valley in France. Even though I sip wines all day to provide cellar notes, I still want a decent meal with nice wine to end the day.
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