A Chat with Herve Chagneau of Antucura

Antucura may not be a household name for wine lovers, but it certainly should be. Its wines are an extraordinary expression of the Vista Flores terroir through a broad variety of grapes, and many have received 90 points or more from Argovino. The winery and hotel in Tunuyan are the brainchild of Anne-Caroline Biancheri, who initially brought in Michel Rolland to make a small selection of high-quality varietals and blends. In 2011, Herve Chagneau took over as head winemaker. We spoke to him about his vision for this exceptional property.

AV: How did you come to take up your position at Antucura? What inspired you about the project?

HC: Before working for Antucura, I worked for five years at another winery in Maipu, named Poesia. When Anne-Caroline contacted me to come to work with her at Antucura in the Uco Valley, I immediately accepted, knowing the great potential of this region and the brand.

AV: What ideas are you bringing from France or other countries to enhance the wines? Are any of the wines supposed to be similar to French wines?

HC: For me, we cannot compare French and Argentine wines because they are different, due to the climate and the altitude. The climate, here, allows them to have a good phenolic maturity, with fresh and fruity wines. At Antucura, we have distinctive blends like the Grand Vin, which is a mix of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and a touch of malbec: it’s a French-style wine with a lot of elegance. Antucura Calcura and the Antucura “La Folie” are composed of six grape varieties, very complex with a lot of fruit.

AV: How does the terroir in Vista Flores compare to the ones you’ve worked
with elsewhere? Is there anything unique about it?

HC: When I arrived in late 2011, I was very surprised by the quality of the grapes and the big diversity of varieties. With the large number of varieties, I can make more complex wines. In 200 acres of the property, we have different terroirs that give different qualities to each variety. For example, with malbec in a sandy soil we have lots of fruit; in a stony soil, mineral character and a good structure; and in a clear soil, much complexity. It is the same for Antucura’s other grape varieties.

AV: Your blends are very complex – can you describe your process for choosing the grapes and volumes you will use? Do you do anything differently from other winemakers?

HC: For me, the most important thing is to harvest at the right time without waiting for ripeness, because I love doing structured and fruity wines with good acidity. The most interesting wines to make are the blends, because you mix the varietal characters of each grape variety to obtain more complexity.

AV: What should we look forward to from Antucura in the near future? Any new wines or emphases?

HC: During the three years I have worked at Antucura, the wines are more and more interesting, because every year there is more precise work at the vinyard, greater knowledge of the soils, and a more aged vineyard giving better quality grapes. The winery has all the equipment and technology to make great wines like in France. For me, the most important thing is the style and the personality that the winemaker and the team give to each of their wines. Actually this is a team effort between the owner, agronomist, winemaker, and commercial division in order to get the best wines in a region that is increasingly recognized worldwide for its potential.

AV: We agree – the potential in the Uco Valley is enormous, and you’re helping to realize it with every vintage. Salud!

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