BHW Interviews Marcelo Pelleriti | The Only South American Winemaker to receive 100pt Score

Greg

Hi everybody, this is Greg at Big Hammer Wines films, I am so pleased to be here today with Marcelo Pelleriti from Mendoza. We're here today in Bordeaux talking about your famous wines. You're the only Argentine winemaker to score 100 points, is that correct?

 

Marcelo

Yeah

 

Greg

But it was not with your Argentine wine, it was with Chateau Le Gay or Chateau Violette?

 

Marcelo

Chateau La Violette

 

Greg

La Violette from Pomerol 2010, got 100 points from Robert Parker, congratulations.

 

Marcelo

Thank you

 

Greg

We've had the chance to work with several of your wines through our website and have been very successful with them. Outstanding Malbecs and Malbec blends from Uco, valle de Uco in Mendoza. I want to know more about you, tell me, how did you get from Mendoza to Bordeaux? You have many projects, so tell us about them.

 

Marcelo

Well, I started to produce my first thousand bottles of wine in 1994. Always, I had and I have a dream to have my company, my winery. Right now I have my company and since 2000, five hundred thousand bottles is a good result. But in the middle of the way I met, Michel Rolland and he opened the door to meet the Pere Verge family, Catherine Pere-Verge, and he started to work in France in 2001 and then with Catherine we started to build everything we have today. I started in Chateau Montviel and then in Argentina I started to build a winery, Monteviejo winery, the first winery in Clos de los Siete projects, and then we brought Chateau Le Gay, Chateau La Violette and my responsibility in 2001 is wine making, multi-cultural responsibility in two countries and management, general manager, CEO - I don't know, in Mendoza, in my winery.

 

Marcelo

We are together with Monteviejo project, Monteviejo wines and Marcelo Pelleriti wines. We are together with the family, this fabulous family, they opened the door to... they give me everything. They trust in me and I trust in this kind of family and I will be working until the end with this project, it is my life.

 

Greg

Fantastic. For most winemakers you have 25 harvests under your belt, but actually you have 50, because you have 2 harvests per year. 

 

Marcelo

Right now I have maybe, I calculated - I think it's 45 harvests in total.

 

Greg

45 harvests? That's amazing!

 

Marcelo

When you produce wine, when you make wine, you need adrenaline to make the wine to harvest. You can have a lot of problems, rainy days, a lot of problems, but for me it's not to stress, it's play, it's something I needed.

 

Greg

You like the challenge?

 

Marcelo

Yeah…

 

Greg

So, you're also a musician, you're a guitarist?

 

Marcelo

Guitar, yeah.  

 

Greg

And you have a band?

 

Marcelo

Yeah

 

Greg

And you have a partnership with an Argentine rock and roll star, what's his name?

 

Marcelo

I have almost 10 projects. Felipe Staiti, he's a great guitarist and ones of the Enanitos Verdes creators, he's a huge. 

 

Greg

Enanitos Verdes that's right…

 

Marcelo

We are really friends. I have a project with Coti, he’s an Argentine rock star, he's very well known in Spain. And, then Juan Chiva Los Perico he’s reggae, and then Marcelo Gillette he's a jazz trumpetist.

 

Greg

Wow, so you basically make a small amount of wine for each of these guys and they use it to... Their own marketing or personal consumption? These are large brands too…

 

Marcelo

They are selling their brands, and I have the biggest project is with Pedro Aznar, Pedro Aznar he has played with Pat Metheny for eight years in the US, amazing musician and he was one of the first musicians in Serú Girán group - it was our Queen. It was an amazing group during the '70's and right now he produces wine with me, it's a huge project, it's Abremundos project. Abremundos project is a huge project - we are almost 10. I started a little festival in 2011, right now it's a huge festival, its name is Wine Rock.

 

Greg

Wine Rock? And that's in Buenos Aires?

 

Marcelo

No, Mendoza and next year will be the 10th edition, and I try to do something with it, something with it, something in Buenos Aires and I try to do something around the world especially in Spain and maybe New York - I don't know, but it's a huge, huge festival.

 

Greg

Good wine, good music.

 

Marcelo

Wine, music, rock music.

 

Greg

Fun!

 

Marcelo

Everybody with a glass of wine, we try to do the wine... introduce our wine to young people - you know?

 

Greg

Do you know that event Bottle Rock in Napa Valley?

 

Marcelo

Yeah I know.

 

Greg

Yeah, that's relatively new and pretty successful. Same idea?

 

Marcelo

This is a boutique festival, it is no more than 3000 people. It is in my winery and it's amazing. It's a little festival but we have a lot of activities in four or five days. Art activities, interviews, natural food and wine, cookers and wine and rock and the festival idea.

 

Greg

When is it?

 

Marcelo

In Mendoza, in my winery in Uco Valley and this year on April 4th.

 

Greg

Alright, we have a date in April in Argentina. Fantastic. So, one of the wines we recently worked with was the Octava Alta, and I think that wine got 95 points from James Suckling?

 

Marcelo

Yeah, I don't remember... maybe?

 

Greg

Yeah, there were so many wines that had high scores. Many of your wines are blended wines, and, of course you've worked with Michel Rolland who we just saw over in the event. He's obviously an expert blender, tell me about how you learned about blending wine and why that's important to the wines you make?

 

Marcelo

Ah interesting, always when I taste with Michel, I try to make my blends. I have a french school but in the end I never can do the same blend like Michel because he has his personality and I have my personality. I mean I try to feel what I want to do, before I make a blend sometimes I stop to try other wines, maybe, 10 days or 15 days? I want to be clean, I want to have my focus in what I want to do. I have my estate, I try to evaluate my style, improve my style, but ever I will be changing my style.

 

Greg

So you're also co-fermenting wines?

 

Marcelo

Yeah, most impossible…

 

Greg

You're co-fermenting, you're letting the wines age in barrels together, is there a preference? I mean because a lot of people, I would say, maybe more commonly, are doing single varietal fermentations and then putting their blends together in a few months and then putting it together in a barrel.

 

Marcelo

Yes, at any point, I mean I try to produce wine and I try to co-ferment because for me it has more expression. If you want to produce good wine, maybe, I think I produce good wine, maybe for some people my style they don't like it, but there are rules. The rules for me are: Healthy - I want to have our vineyards really healthy, really almost perfect. Clean in my winery, good oak, good barrels - I prefer non used oak if I don't agree with the quality. Since 2001 I developed with a different producer here, our own barrels. Our toast, our oak, everything.

 

Greg

So you use just one producer then? 

 

Marcelo

No, I use almost six, but we always try to improve the quality because first it's wine, then oak is a compliment. I sell wine not barrels. And obviously, good grape quality.

 

Greg

And your focus is Valle de Uco? Which I think a lot of people, myself included, agree is the most exciting and the highest quality area in Mendoza.

 

Marcelo

Yeah, we have our vineyards in different places, one of them is Chacayes the other one is Campo De Los Andes or la Remonta , depends on the soil origin or politic division, but it is La Remonta, Chacayes, and then Altamira and then La Consulta. La Consulta is interesting because I have a vineyard planted in 1907, right now it is my vineyard, but until 1994 I started to produce my first thousand bottles from that vineyard.

 

Greg

The yields must be very low?

 

Marcelo

The yields are low, it's a really old vineyard, but when you walk into the vines you feel something special, I remember when I walk into the vineyard without experience and I choose these grapes to produce my first wine.

 

Greg

It talked to you?

 

Marcelo

And the owner is an old guy, today 95 years old from Italy, he is amazing. If you visit me I want to show you this kind of vineyard.

 

Greg

Yeah, they must be some noble vines…

 

Marcelo

It has a lot of history.

 

Greg

You have an Italian last name, are your parent from Italy originally?

 

Marcelo

My grandfather, from south of Italy, Sicilia. Messina

 

Greg

Sicily, wow.

 

Marcelo

I have a lot of dreams, but sometime  I want to produce something from Sicilia, Nerello Mascalese or something.

 

Greg

That would be amazing, you know my grandparents are from Puglia.

 

Marcelo

Ah, Puglia it’s close to Sicily.

 

Greg

Well, that was my next question, is partnerships a big part of what you do? You have a lot of partnerships, with different... there is musician's, with the family here in Bordeaux, with Michel Rolland and…

 

Marcelo

Well, Michel Rolland is my…

 

Greg

Consultant?

 

Marcelo

My mentor.

 

Greg

Your mentor? You have a great mentor. And, I saw that you have two telephones, is that an Argentine and a French?

 

Marcelo

And a French one, yeah.

 

Greg

So, you manage a lot, you have a lot of things going on. How do you find these partnerships?

 

Marcelo

To have a partnership you must feel it. If I don't feel something good, I prefer I don't have it. I mean each partnership with a musician is great because our people, we feel something, we feel the same, we feel passion. They feel passion for music, me too, and they feel passion for wine too - me too. I mean they our amazing people, amazing creators, I learned a lot at the moment where they make their blends because they put a lot of samples and they create the blends. I learned a lot, they have a sixth sense to create something always.

 

Greg

As artist's you mean? As creative people?

 

Marcelo

Yeah, and then with musician is pleasure, with the french they are like my family, I don't have a lot of partners. I don't know if I am working, I enjoy my life, they are not partners for me, they are friends, people and we produce something together, we create wine. Wine at the beginning to me is not art, for me a bottle of wine is art, when I open a bottle of wine since 30 or 25 years old, if I open the wine and it's good wine, for me that is art. Right now when I open my first bottle of wine and they continue to be really good I feel this is art, because art is like a song, you can... transcendence, transcendia? When a bottle of wine transcends - like music or paint, it's art.

 

Greg

I like that. So, what's next for you? You've got so much going on wines from Bordeaux, wines from Argentina, what's next? What else does Marcelo want to accomplish?

 

Marcelo

Right now, when you have a project the project must run. If you have a project and the project breaks - I don't know, doesn't run? Sorry, my English…

 

Greg

No, the management, of it and the …

 

Marcelo

I must manage my project to be, to have projects for 100 years.

 

Greg

And to be self sufficient?

 

Marcelo

My dream is if my family can continue, because I am the first generation in wine, but I don't know, the children today are difficult to push in the same way as the last. I mean it's a dream, I mean if someone, my son or my daughter must continue it's really a dream; because, at the end, we make everything for the next generation. Wine is at a start, Argentina is a new country, we produce wine since a long time ago, but it's a new country. MY dream is in 100 years we can see a bottle of wine from Argentina in the best cellar in the world and everybody can talk like it's a great country to produce wine, high quality wine. This is my dream, if my children can continue this is my dream.

 

Marcelo

But right now, I am putting my all in my project and I have a mature team, my dream is, I have a great team and I follow my project and I want to have a little project in Italy or in Spain. Little projects to enjoy.

 

Greg

And you're going to be spending more time in the US because you told me that you're going to be taking a film course. So tell me what's your ambition? You want to be a filmmaker next?

 

Marcelo

No, I love pictures, I love creating some videos. My wife did a documentary about art history in the winery and it was really interesting because she has some work in different countries. She writes a lot, right now she is writing a book. She is in charge of art in the winery, experimental art, not permanent exhibition. We want to do something together, filming or creating something I'm thinking. I write some history when I travel, I travel a lot and then if I have something that can motivate me to write some history I do it. Maybe it's too much, but, if I do something I want it to do with my music if possible, but it is a lot, it is a lot of dreams, it is amazing we must dream. Dream and drink.

 

Greg

Haha, dream and drink, well I hope we can share some drinks and dreams when we see you in California. Thank you so much for your time and good luck with everything.

 

Marcelo

Thank you.

 



Leave a comment (all fields required)

Comments will be approved before showing up.