Viña Almaviva, one of Chile's most prestigious wineries, has named Michel Friou as its new winemaker. He replaces Tod Mostero, who oversaw production from 2004 to the recently completed 2007 vintage. Mostero plans to return to his native California after living and working abroad for the last 11 years.
Almaviva, located in the Maipo Valley, produces approximately 15,000 cases a year of a consistently outstanding blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenère from Puente Alto. The winery, which debuted in the 1996 vintage, is a joint venture between Chile's Concha y Toro and Bordeaux-based Baron Philippe de Rothschild (the family company that owns Château Mouton-Rothschild).
"My first goal will be to maintain the quality level already acquired by the wine," says Friou. "[Then] to improve it every year, expressing at its best the natural potential of this unique terroir."
Friou, 41, was most recently the winemaker at Baron Philippe de Rothschild Chile, which produces 220,000 cases annually of value-priced wines, including a blend called Escudo Rojo. But Friou is no stranger to high-end wines, having been head winemaker at Casa Lapostolle in Chile's Rapel Valley from 1994 through 2004, where he was responsible for that winery's prestigious Clos Apalta bottling. Friou also has some experience in Puente Alto already, having vinified some batches of wine from the area and worked the 2007 harvest with Mostero.
Friou, who will retain his role at Baron Philippe de Rothschild Chile as he assumes his duties at Viña Almaviva, joins a select list of winemakers from the estate's history. Prior to Mostero, Almaviva's wine was made by Patrick Léon, who gave way to Enrique Tirado, who now oversees Concha y Toro's flagship, Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon.
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