Winemaker at Tantalus on Waiheke Island (Auckland).
Wizard, responsible for overseeing and helping the fruit et al. to evolve into a mystical experience for all of us simple mortals.
Number of years in the wine industry:
Since 2001 in the industry, pretty happy with my new millennium resolution. Since 2011 in the Onetangi Valley.
Lab rat. Over the years washing bottles I mastered my shooting technique. Very useful for staff water fights when the senior lab technicians were not around.
If you were a wine, what wine would you be?
Wild fermented Bonarda with a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon for self determination and enough Malbec for my beautiful partner to find me flexible and a little charming.
What would you do if you wouldn’t be a winemaker?
Cheese maker, musician, architect or writer.
Why did you decide to work in the wine industry?
I didn’t want to be part of a huge unbalanced food industry so, after resigning from my QC job in the fish industry, I took a bus to Mendoza – pursuing the mystique of wine as a product but also attracted by the history, different cultures, terroirs, millions of passionate hands and that mysterious energy that makes winegrowing one the best things that happen to humanity. My nose definitely appreciates the change, I’ll tell you that!
Wine & dine, what’s your favourite match?
Aged left bank Bordeaux with an Argentinean beef asado a las brasas from the pampas.
Share a fact about your winery that only a few know:
There are several mysterious varieties and clones along the rows, meticulously planned to increase complexity in the blends. As a result, it is usual to encounter the connoisseurs exploring the wines, tantalising the discovery of each component, its expressiveness and individual characters at the time of tasting.
Hidden gems and favourite spots in your region?
On Waiheke: Cactus Bay, Melon Bay and little Palm Beach. Close enough: Great Barrier Island is an spiritual experience with mother nature.
Things you still want to do:
Get Tantalus recognised in the international scheme, keep learning and growing as a person as well as a professional, become a MW, keep traveling, asking, searching, tasting, experiencing, discovering. This game of life is very well done and endless. It helps to be surrounded by great people, food and wine of course.
Last book read?
Mmmm. I have usually 3 or 4 going at one time. Last ones were Thus spoke Zaratustra by Nietzche, Authentic wine by Goode/Harrop, What the Buddha taught by Rahula and Ficciones by Borges.
Advice on buying wine:
Go to tastings, be open, ask lots of questions and don’t be afraid if your choice it is not popular. Buy and drink what you like. We make wine to be enjoyed. Cheers to that!
Dead or alive, who would you like to share a glass of vino with?
Ufff, Endless list I guess. Let’s share a barrel with them. Plato, Schopenauer, Einstein, Da Vinci, Gaudi, Jesus, Sidharta, a few influent world leaders and, of course, Don Pascal Ribereau Gayon. I would love to give a taste of an intense floral variety to Gandhi, understanding if he does not drink it, because of the alcohol, but surely he could stick his nose in the glass, close his eyes and slowly enjoy the magic.
Find out more about Tantalus and their wines here:
Thanks for your time Alex!