I love watching fathers dote on their children… There’s something about the joy in their eyes, the passion emanating from their bodies as they discuss the development of their kids, and even watching them in varying levels of protection, correction, and nurture.
I know this seems like a hard-sell segue from father’s day to wine, but I promised myself to tell you about a winemaker that acts like such a father to his wines, Tomás Uribe Martinez of Viña Tremonte.
Now, I’ve met several winemakers from different parts of the world, and all of them have a certain personality: There are really professional ones who know all there is to know about their wines. There are those who have inherited and are running family owned estates (I appreciate those the most for their no-nonsense, personal touch). I’ve met a man in Chianti who was too embarrassed to sell me his limited edition bottles for 8€ a pop (after we came from Burgundy, it was a STEAL).
Tomás was different… A very good kind of different.
I met him in Chile last November. By that point in the trip, I had just gotten over my jetlag, established a rapport with the ProChile representatives (with my silly gringa Spanglish), and was used to being shuttled around in established vineyards via open white 4x4s.
Tremonte is a boutique winery, and as such it was a little challenging to spot it from the highway (note to self: spot the red truck). Our apprehension disappeared after being welcomed personally by Tomás (Manager of Operations and Winemaker, Tremonte). He had this big, wide smile, open personality, and a huge amount of eagerness to show us his “babies”.
As we toured his vineyards in his SUV (which he said he also used to shuttle his own family around), he spoke so warmly about his “untended” vines that were growing the way he wanted them to (and were due for pruning).
We got off the car, and he encouraged me to look around, take photos, and por favor touch the baby grapes if I wanted to.
As I excitedly did just that (I promise I looked like a little kid let loose in a toy store), I looked back at Tomás, who brandished a cutter and was pruning away at his vines.
I’ve never seen that happen before. I mean, you could see his genuine delight in applying measures to ensure a phenomenal growth to his vines by pruning erring ones. It was just that it has never happened to me in the middle of a vineyard tour. It was an awesome sight to see.
Even the way he introduced me to the barrels of wine that were in the process of ageing was so paternal. He spoke about each wine, grape, and vintage like their characteristics are human personalities; even justifying why certain ones won’t meet preconceived notions.
They will be beautiful but different, and he made no apologies for that.
We went around his cellar to try his wines straight from the barrel (how cool was that).
I loved his Monte Rekewa Gran Reserva, a mix of three powerful grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Shiraz). It was so big, so robust, and begging for food to be paired with.
He also let me try his Malbec, something he was passionate about. Malbec is normally associated with Argentina (Chile’s next-door neighbour that also produces wine). While it is produced in Chile, Chileans have a tendency to make Malbec with their own personal touch (a little less violet on the nose, but with the soft textures of its Argentine counterpart).
Tomás’ Malbec is in its own league: jammy, with significantly smaller hints of that spicy characteristic I am accustomed to, and quite smooth on the mouth. It was an unorthodox interpretation indeed, but absolutely gorgeous.
Then, there was his Inkari. A bold, well-balanced Shiraz, it had delectable notes of ripe fruits, tapered by intense tannin. I described it in my head as a “no-holds barred, in-your-face Shiraz”.
I loved everything.
I also loved the fact that Tomás made most of the things in the vineyard himself: The barns, the patches of flowers, and the layout of the oak barrels resting in his cellar… Home Improvement meets winemaking.
When he welcomed us, he did mention that his vineyards and wines are “up and coming”. I am personally excited to watch him and his wines establish themselves in the wine scene.
Like a new dad watching his kids grow up.
Happy Father’s Day, everyone! Cheers!