Fernando may have recently become a Master of Wine but that doesn’t mean his studies are over. Each month he will be visiting top winemakers that he admires across the word to learn new techniques and practices to implement in Frontonio, part of his unending quest to make the best wines in our little corner of Aragón.
At one of Napa’s most iconic wineries, Fernando had the unique opportunity to blend wines from more than 80 parcels of Pinot Noir with winemaker (and protégée of the oenological greats Jean and Pascal Ribereau-Gayon and Emile Peynaud) Geneviève Janssens. Fernando and Geneviève tasted the wines to select elements for the different ranges and Fernando also learnt more about their iconic To Kalon vineyard.
He then headed back to Chile in time for the harvest in the southern hemisphere. It was his second visit to the country that so impressed him last year. His trip took in three wineries with very different yet complimentary ways of thinking. In fact, Fernando said that what he really likes about the South American country is the ability of the wineries to adhere to very heterogeneous philosophies, rather than all following the same trends.
The first was his brother from a different mother – Derek Mossmann in Maule. Although they could be embroiled in a legal battle over the name “Garage Winery”, Fernando and Derek have found it much more productive and enriching to become friends, especially as they share similar philosophies when it comes to wine. Fernando was out tasting Cariñena and Garnacha grapes with Derek to check for ripeness.
At De Martino, Fernando met with Marco De Martino and visionary winemaker Marcelo Retamal to see some of the different practices the family and Marcelo in his personal project in Elqui carry out, using old clay amphorae, working with Moscatel and old vine Cariñena, and vinifying with stems… Fernando was excited to meet “Reta” as he considers him to be one of the true revolutionaries of Chilean wine, breaking with convention to produce balanced wines that express their origin at the height of the trend for phenolic ripeness.
Finally, he met with Torres’ Technical Director in Chile, Fernando Almeda. As well seeing the inner workings of a huge winery, Fernando was interested to see the parallels between their project to recover old vines of the Pais grape variety and his own old vine Garnacha in Aragón. He also had fun going up in their light airplane over the vast Chilean vineyards.
He ended his trip in the best way possible, by bringing everyone together to enjoy wine, food and conversation, sharing ideas and goals.
Thanks go to Geneviève Janssens at Robert Mondavi Winery, Derek Mossmann-Knapp at the Garage Wine Company, Marco De Martino and Marcelo Retamal at De Martino and Fernando Almeda at Viña Miguel Torres for becoming part of Frontonio’s history and helping improve our wines.