Drink­ing Di-vine

Wine­maker Aure­lio Montes del Campo dis­cusses eco-farm­ing, ro­man­tic din­ners and the ac­claimed vine­yard his father started—montes—with Chloe Street

Hong Kong Tatler - - Life -

ure­lio montes and Dou­glas Mur­ray, both highly ex­pe­ri­enced wine pro­fes­sion­als, wanted to re­alise their dream of pro­duc­ing Chilean wines that were a quan­tum leap higher in qual­ity that the stan­dards of the time. In 1988, they joined forces with Al­fredo Vi­dau­rre and Pedro Grand—to­gether, the four es­tab­lished the Montes vine­yard (ini­tially called Dis­cover Wine) with the ex­press in­ten­tion of be­com­ing a pi­o­neer pro­ducer of pre­mi­umqual­ity Chilean wines. The Gar­cés and Bar­ros fam­i­lies later joined the team, bring­ing a solid en­tre­pre­neur­ial back­ground, a long-term vi­sion and an un­shake­able com­mit­ment that has helped Montes earn its world­wide rep­u­ta­tion for ex­cel­lence. What has been the key to your suc­cess when cre­at­ing Montes wines? Ev­ery pros­per­ous win­ery owes its suc­cess to mul­ti­ple fac­tors. For Montes, the most im­por­tant fac­tor has been the qual­ity of the wine. It may sound ob­vi­ous, but with­out a great prod­uct, suc­cess would have been im­pos­si­ble. The se­cond fac­tor is con­sis­tency: it´s easy to pro­duce a great wine as a one-off, but it’s a big chal­lenge to pro­duce a great wine ev­ery year as we do at Montes. Thirdly, you have to be suc­cess­ful com­mer­cially—to be known and sell­ing in as many coun­tries as pos­si­ble. To­day, de­spite not be­ing a large vine­yard, we sell our wines in more than 120 coun­tries.

Do you use any spe­cial tech­niques when mak­ing your wines? For us, wine­mak­ing is a very nat­u­ral process. We be­lieve that the less you in­ter­vene, the bet­ter the qual­ity you get. We have, for ex­am­ple, a 100 per cent grav­ity-flow win­ery (which doesn’t use pumps) to avoid dam­ag­ing the wine. We also started a dry-farmed ini­tia­tive a few years ago—an en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly way to use less wa­ter through non­ir­ri­gated cul­ti­va­tion.

Do the Chileans have a so­phis­ti­cated ap­proach to wine? In Chile, we have been pro­duc­ing and drink­ing wine for more than 500 years. The main change over this pe­riod is that the amount of wine con­sumed has re­duced—from 56 litres per capita in the 1950s to 16 litres to­day. As wine knowl­edge in­creases, Chileans are drink­ing bet­terqual­ity wine in re­duced quan­ti­ties, while new gen­er­a­tions are drink­ing less spir­its and beer, and more wine.

What is the best wine you’ve ever drunk? Drink­ing a good bot­tle of wine is al­ways an ex­tremely pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence. One bot­tle I en­joyed over a ro­man­tic din­ner with my wife was par­tic­u­larly mem­o­rable for the amaz­ing set­ting. On the Sirmione penin­sula in north­ern Italy, we had a ro­man­tic meal un­der a big tree with a beau­ti­ful view over Lake Garda—and shared a lovely bot­tle of Cascina Mo­rassino.

How are your wines re­ceived in Asia? What are your strate­gies here? Asia is, by far, Montes’ most ex­cit­ing mar­ket. Un­like in Europe, where peo­ple al­ready know a lot about wine, in Asia, peo­ple are cu­ri­ous and want to learn. There is still work to do to change the im­age of wine be­ing an ex­clu­sive lux­ury prod­uct to be en­joyed by the few, but our strat­egy is to in­vest time in the mar­ket and visit of­ten, so that we can ed­u­cate and ex­pose peo­ple to our won­der­ful wines.

What’s the great­est achieve­ment since you started? Af­ter 25 years of hard work, we have suc­ceeded in putting Chile on the map of the pre­mium ter­roirs of the world.

green thumb Aure­lio Montes del Campo gets down and dirty at his vine­yard

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