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Producer Q&A

  • In the vineyard with Rodolfo Bastida

    We sat down with Chief Winemaker at Ramón Bilbao, Rodolfo Bastida, to find out what makes him tick.  

    What was your path into winemaking?

    Wine is part of my family, it’s in my blood. My grandfather made wine in Rioja. He had a winery where he’d ferment his own grapes and then sell a quantity in bulk to other wineries. My father sells grapes to other producers in the area. I wanted to study wine because I’m passionate about the hills and the landscape itself, and talking about wine and vineyards is very useful at home. The tradition continues because my brother is a winemaker in the same region, and my wife too. So, naturally when we share a meal together there’s always plenty of wine, and a lot of competition over whose wine we’ll drink to finish the meal.

    So every moment we’re talking about wine. My son too is quite interested – he’s just 12 years old, but whenever we open a bottle of wine we always allow him to try it. But I want him to appreciate and understand the whole winemaking experience, before he thinks about the wine. He comes in the field to go grape picking with us, so he can see the effort that goes into it. I remember so well helping my grandfather press his grapes when I was just four years old. This is really part of our family culture: wine, winemaking, and the vineyards.

    What do you love about working for Ramón Bilbao?

    I love that when you’re making wines you never stop learning; you’re always developing new ideas. I’m very excited about what our research team has been doing, making very interesting things with natural yeast, and wines in concrete tanks. Now we’re testing how microcosms in the vineyard can help produce characteristics in the wines. There’s a very interesting study from University of California, Davis, that explores the relationship between the flavours and aromas you have in your wine, with the microcosms you have in your soil. For the future I think this is going to be very useful.

    I think in the future we’ll be doing similar things to now, but with more information. People often ask, do you think 10, 20 years ago people were making better wines than now? And I always say no, now we’re making better wines than ever before. My grandfather was making decisions only with the knowledge he had in his head, he wasn’t reading and researching, he didn’t know what they were doing in South Africa, or Australia. I think with more culture, and information you can produce better and better wines.

    I’m also very happy with the team we have for managing our different wineries in Spain. For us it’s more important to reflect the personalities in every wine we’re making, and this part comes from understanding every region and championing the terroir.

    What’s your winemaking philosophy?

    The most important thing for me is to put the fresh aspect of each region into our wines. There are plenty of parts of Spain that produce intense wines in terms of colours, and high alcohol. For me, Rioja is ready to make fine and elegant wines. I think things are changing, and there’s more interest in wines that spend long periods in barrels. Consumers are starting to look for these more delicate wines, more than the bombshell powerhouses of years gone by.

    Who are your greatest wine heroes?

    My hero is the grower working out in the vineyard. When you look at his hands, his face, you can see the harsh effect the elements have had on him. I always think of these people who spend their lives working in the fields. This is what inspires me to keep working hard. In Rioja there are lots of villages where they can grow only vineyards – but if one year there’s a frost problem, another year with mildew, they might lose their whole harvest so their family lives with not much. These are the real heroes.

    Why are you proud to call Rioja home?

    Close to the Basque country, Rioja is different to the rest of. The region is very small, but there are a lot of people who pass through the area so when you’re in the street you’ll notice that the people are very open and welcoming. People are always coming and going, so we’re a hospitable folk. We try to make others who are visiting our region comfortable – this is our way of life.

    If you had to pick just three wines to take with you to a desert island, what would they be?

    It depends on the situation. Some days I enjoy a bottle of Crianza because it is very fresh and easy to drink, and you don’t need food. But if you’re cooking a big piece of meat, a bottle of Mirto is fantastic. I also love wines from Ribera del Duero, and Sicilian Nero d’Avola. I love Bordeaux wines, especially from Saint-Émilion. I love the whole culture that you feel in every corner of the city when you’re in Bordeaux – from the chateaux to the whole French qualification system. You can sit down in a simple, inexpensive restaurant, and you’ll be offered a bottle of very prestigious wine, and there’s a whole fanfare around it. In Spain, wine is just part of everyday life, with less ceremony.

    What do you best like to eat with wine?

    I love the pairings we make at the winery; especially the Patatas Riojanas (potatoes with chorizo and red peppers). But I’m also very good at cooking rice, and think I make a nice seafood paella.

    Do you have a nickname when you’re at work?

    Not at the winery, but at home because my father and grandfather both share the same name as me, I am called Rodolfito. Little Rodolfo.

    If you weren’t working in wine, what would your ‘Plan B’ be?

    Nothing, I can’t imagine anything else. Wine is my whole life.

  • Greetings from Ferrari...

    Greetings from Ferrari

    Tell us the story of the winery.

    Founded in 1902 in Trento by Giulio Ferrari and run since 1952 by the Lunelli family, Ferrari is Italy’s leading luxury sparkling wine and a symbol of the Italian 'art of living'.

    What's your nickname when you're at work?

    As the only Australian in winery I'm referred to as 'Kangaroo' or 'Din Don Dan' (Jingle Bells in Italian and rhymes with ‘Dean’).

    What's your winemaking philosophy?

    At Ferrari we produce Trentodoc sparkling wines utilising sustainable mountainous growing methods on the slopes of the Dolomites in northern Italy.

    What's your favourite cocktail?

    The ‘Ferrari YouGo’ for sure is my favourite which is a Ferrari twist on the popular sparkling wine cocktail ‘Hugo’ from Northern Italy.

    Tell us about your most memorable food and wine moment.

    World’s Top Restaurant for 2016 ‘Osteria Francescana, meeting with Chef Massimo Bottura and drinking a bottle of Giulio Ferrari. Was outstanding!

    You’re a castaway and you can only take three wines, one book and two luxury items with you - what are these and why?

    Three Wines 

    Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore. It's all I'd need (x3)!

    One Book 

    Blue Lagoon by H. De Vere Stacpoole.

    Two Luxury Items

    Solar battery charger & iPod (for musical interludes).

    If you weren't working in wine, what would your 'Plan B' be?

    Rock Star. Or an olive oil producer.

    You can cook for three guests (living or dead): who are they, and what would you cook them? Also give us a run-down of what you'll be drinking.

    John Lennon, Mao Ze Dong, & Mohammad Ali. I’d cook them a traditional Italian meal comprising of antipasti, seafood pasta and a fish main. Would start with a bottle of Ferrari Maximum Brut which is a great starting point, followed by a Ferrari Perlé for the pasta dish and to close I’d love to pop the cork on a bottle of Giulio Ferrari. Would be monumental!

  • Greetings from... Ascheri

    Ascheri
    What's your nickname when you're at work?

    The Bear or Babbo Natale (Santa Klaus).

    What's your winemaking philosophy?

    In a world where wines are generally produced with the same grapes, the same technology, the same wood for ageing and above all the same consultants, my aim is to obtain a wine which is the expression of the vineyard it comes from, of the grapes it was made of, and above all of my own ideas.

    And these ideas are based on concepts of natural concentration, arriving from the vineyards and not from winery equipments, balance, elegance and finesse.

    An absolutely personal approach in order to produce a unique wine.

    “How to listen, comparing wine with music, an “acoustic” version instead of an “electronic”one.”

    What's your favourite cocktail?

    Caipiroska.

    Tell us about your most memorable food and wine moment.

    Aged Castelmagno (Piedmontese cow milk cheese) + Barolo with more than 30 years age.

    You’re a castaway and you can only take three wines, one book and two luxury items with you - what are these and why?

    Three Wines 

    Chateau Grillet - Romanéè Conti (one of) - Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto.

    One Book 

    Il nome della Rosa (The name of the Rose) - Umberto Eco.

    Two Luxury Items

    A music player + music to listen / a comfortable armchair.

    If you weren't working in wine, what would your 'Plan B' be?

    A sea fisherman.

    You can cook for three guests (living or dead): who are they, and what would you cook them? Also give us a run-down of what you'll be drinking.

    Sean Connery (Actor)- tajarin (Piedmontese pasta dish) butter and sage + white truffle - Dolcetto d'Alba Nirane 2015. Sergio Leone (Italian film director)- Piedmontese veal braised in Barolo wine - Barolo Sorano 2012. Dave Gahan (Depeche Mode frontman) - Moscato zabaglione cream - Moscato d'Asti 2015.

  • Greetings from Chalmers...

    Greetings from Chalmers

    Tell us the story of the winery.

    The Chalmers family’s commitment to innovation and excellence has made them a pivotal force in the Australian wine scene and saw them collectively named Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine’s Viticulturists of the Year in 2014.  Chalmers wines are estate grown at the family’s Heathcote vineyard, established in 2008, but their place in the viticultural landscape in Australia goes back more than 30 years.

    What's your nickname when you're at work?

    Snoozey.

    What's your winemaking philosophy?

    Let the grapes speak for themselves.

    What's your favourite cocktail?

    Anything bitter - Love a negroni or ameicano, or a good old campari and soda.

    Tell us about your most memorable food and wine moment.

    So hard to choose just one!  But being a lover of all things Italian - the best pasta of my life was in an osteria in Umbria in 2008 where I had a summer truffle and air dried ricotta strognozzi with our Italian 'brother' viticulturist Dott. Stefano Dini who is a Tuscan native.  He introduced me to Perticaia Sagrantino and it was a revelation, so much more approachable than other Sagrantino wines I'd had before.  Also sagrantino just made so much sense with the earthy summer truffles and sitting in the centre of the region it comes from.

    You’re a castaway and you can only take three wines, one book and two luxury items with you - what are these and why?

    Three Wines 

    A Burklin Wolf Wachenheimer Riesling, A Villa Mathilde Falanghina and a Wiston Blanc de Blancs.  Dry textured and aromatic wines with plenty of zippy acidity.  Love a refreshing drink.

    One Book 

    Any book by William Gibson, the cyberfantasy legend whose writing has the ability to completely take me to another place.

    Two Luxury Items

    A guitar and comfy bed.

    If you weren't working in wine, what would your 'Plan B' be?

    Performing arts.  I trained as a composer and started my career in this field.  I've also curated arts festivals etc and love the industry.  I would definitely be working with artists and performance.

    You can cook for three guests (living or dead): who are they, and what would you cook them? Also give us a run-down of what you'll be drinking.

    I'd cook for Paul Simon, Steve Reich and Professor Brian Cox.  I'd probably cook Indian as I LOVE working with all the raw spices and spending the day constructing lots of different dishes to serve all together.  I would be serving dry, textured aromatic white wines and possibly a cheeky dry rose or bright young drinking red wine.  More than likely it would be a vegetarian meal and probably Aussie, Italian and German wines.

  • Greetings from Bogle...

    Bogle postcard

    Tell us the story of the winery.

    Though we've been farming the Delta region of California since the late 1800's, it wasn’t until 1968 that father and son team of Warren and Chris Bogle planted the first winegrapes in the area.  Built by Chris and his wife Patty, the winery is now run by their children, Warren, Ryan and Jody Bogle, who are 6th generation farmers.

    They are proud to continue to family tradition created by their parents and grandparents:  quality wine that over delivers with each and every bottle.

    What's your winemaking philosophy?

    Quality above all else.

    What's your favourite cocktail?

    Gin & Tonic with Lime.

    Tell us about your most memorable food and wine moment.

    When my husband and I had just met, I travelled for work to Alaska and was able to fish the Alexander River. I caught a 15kg King Salmon and when I returned home, we barbecued it at the winery and drank newly released Chardonnay.  It was a lovely meal and quite memorable as we have now been married for 13 years.

    You’re a castaway and you can only take three wines, one book and two luxury items with you - what are these and why?

    Three Wines 

    Bogle Chenin Blanc, Schramsberg Jschram, Bogle Phantom.

    One Book 

    Outlander.

    Two Luxury Items

    Sunscreen, dark chocolate.

    If you weren't working in wine, what would your 'Plan B' be?

    Teaching English to elementary children.

    You can cook for three guests (living or dead): who are they, and what would you cook them? Also give us a run-down of what you'll be drinking.

    My parents, Chris and Patty Bogle, and my grandfather, Warren Bogle, founders of Bogle Vineyards. They are missed everyday.

  • Greetings from Colterenzio...

    Colterenzio

    Tell us the story of the winery

    Colterenzio was founded in 1960 by 28 vintners. Over the years other winemakers from the area joined the collective, and today 300 members cultivate 300 hectares of vineyards.

    What's your nickname when you're at work?

    My name is too short for a nickname ;)

    What's your winemaking philosophy?

    Our aim is to guarantee our customers a stable high wine quality. In the cellar we work on new quality strategies to get the best out of the precious handpicked grapes we get from our farmers.

    What's your favourite cocktail?

    Gin Tonic

    Tell us about your most memorable food and wine moment.

    At a restaurant in Genoa we had a delicious pistachio semifreddo with a dark chocolate souce and a Château d'Yquem Sauternes 1er Cru Supérieru 2000

    You’re a castaway and you can only take three wines, one book and two luxury items with you - what are these and why?

    Three Wines

    Colterenzio Sauvignon Lafòa 2010; Stiftskellerei Neustift Riesling Praepositus 2007; Château d'Yquem Sauternes 1er Cru Supérieru 2000

    One Book

    Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky

    Two Luxury Items

    Sun Lotion and my favourite dress

    If you weren't working in wine, what would your 'Plan B' be?

    Work in another food or beverages company

    You can cook for three guests (living or dead): who are they, and what would you cook them? Also give us a run-down of what you'll be drinking.

    Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Martin Suter & Terrence Malick; "Trofie" with pesto genovese (Pinot Bianco), Dumplings with Beef Goulash  (Lagrein), Apple Strudel (Moscato Rosa)

  • Greetings from Thelema

    You can cook for three guests (living or dead): who are they, and what would you cook them? Also give us a run-down of what you'll be drinking

    Peter Sellers, Nelson Mandela, Ricky Gervais. Steak and chips, served with Thelema Cabernet Sauvignon

    What's your winemaking philosophy?

    'Benign neglect'

    What's your favourite cocktail?

    Caipirinha

    Tell us about your most memorable food and wine moment.

    Sunday lunches on the farm with the family, eating moms cooking, drinking dads wine, listening to opera. doesn’t get better than that.

    You’re a castaway and you can only take three wines, one book and two luxury
    items with you - what are these and why?


    Three Wines

    Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Auslese (for breakfast)
    DRC Montrachet (for lunch)
    DRC Romanee-Conti (for dinner)

    One Book
    Catch 22. Had the book for 10 years now and still haven't read it. Will be forced to finally read it now!

    Two Luxury Items
    My bed, and a decent coffee machine (plus beans, and some long life milk)

    If you weren't working in wine, what would your 'Plan B' be?
    marry rich and play lots of golf

    Tell us the story of the winery
    The farm was named 'Thelema' after the fictional 'Abbaye de Thélème', written about by Francois Rabelais, the 15th century French renaissance writer, humorist and physician.

  • Greetings from Skillogalee

    A postcard from Skilloagalee You can cook for three guests (living or dead): who are they, and what would you cook them? Also give us a run-down of what you'll be drinking

    Guests:  Dame Margot Fonteyn, Spike Milligan, Eric Clapton.  (People whom I admire and who might, with just sufficient of the chosen wines, provide an impromptu cabaret performance after coffee and the petit fours!)
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