Hi Ana! What attracted you most to the profession of cellar master?
I’m from Mendoza, Argentina. It is a very traditional winemaking region and we are very used to live surrounded by vineyards and cellars. The culture of the Province is influenced by winemaking. When I finished high school and I had to choose what to study, one of my options was winemaking. I asked my father for some advice. He has lot of friends in the wine industry and he asked one of them if he could receive me for an internship in his cellar, 60 kilometers from CHANDON winery. That’s when I felt in love with winemaking.
What do you enjoy the most about winemaking?
What I like the most about it, is that we are using grapes that are from our own terroir, we plant them, we see them growing, we take very special care of watering them very precisely, since Mendoza is located in a high altitude desert and water is a very rare resource. I love this daily contact with nature. I love to be here, to experiment, to bring the best of the fruits to create exceptional sparkling wines every harvest. It is a huge responsibility to work with a natural element and taking good care of not damaging it for next generations.
What is so special about the Mendoza area?
Here in Mendoza, altitude is very important. We live at the foothills of the Andes Mountain around 1000m above sea level. Our vineyards go up to 1700m above sea level, one the highest winelands to grow grapes. I am so grateful to be granted with this beautiful view every day. Working in such an extreme environment is a challenge but it is also a blessing.
What I love about my job as a winemaker for CHANDON is that I am lucky enough to travel around the world making wine. At CHANDON, we are a community of 17 winemakers located in 6 unique estates around the world (CHANDON is the world’s largest domaine dedicated to sparkling wine production with wineries in Argentina, Brazil, Australia, California, China and India). I learn every day from my colleagues, from their different terroirs, from their unique winemaking savoir-faire, from their experiments, their trials,…
What aromas are characteristic for Mendoza?
When I started working at CHANDON, I discovered a huge palette of flavors and aromas coming from different grape varieties. We grow primarily Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which are the perfect varieties to produce sparkling wine in this region. These are by far our biggest plantings, with around 800 and 400 hectares respectively. To this we add a little Petit Manseng, and some Malbec, Mendoza’s most famous grape variety, which we use in our rosé cuvées. Our sites, with their range of different altitudes, are the best in the area. Our environment gives us very pure, true expressions of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with bright primary-fruit notes, high acidity giving a nice refreshing palate.
Are there specific challenges that come with this location?
We’re already growing between 1,000m and 1,700m in altitude, but have our sights set also further up, because we are always looking for distinct, even purer expressions, with different soils and viticultural challenges. Every grape variety is cultivated at a different altitude. It took us years decades, to figure out which altitude (we call them the Terrazas) corresponds best to each grape variety.
It is highly important to mention that as we are located in a high altitude desert, the grape characteristics are very unique. The vines’ roots go deep into the desert soil in search of the clear Andean meltwater. This year we had very few snow. We already know that in a few months we will pass through an emergency situation with almost no water to irrigate our vines. It’s a desert, yes. but to us, winemakers, this is paradise.