Audebert: Single vineyard wines are like painting in monochrome
Nicolas Audebert, the French-born chief winemaker at Cheval des Andes in Mendoza, has poured water on the concept of single vineyard wines, comparing the practice to painting in black and white.
Speaking to the drinks business during a recent visit to London, Audebert said: “A single vineyard wine is like painting in monochrome. I’ve got a lot of respect for the winemakers that do it, but you don’t achieve the same level of complexity.
“We have incredible terroir in Mendoza to do single vineyard Malbecs, but for me, a single block, single grape wine is like a violin solo – it can be great, but it will never compete with the sound and experience of a full orchestra.
“There is only so much complexity you can glean from a single site. I believe more in the power of blends, which are more than the sum of their parts.
“Cabernet is the firm and dependable bone and muscle structure, while Malbec is the soft and juicy flesh in the blend.
Continuing with the musical analogy, Audebert added: “Winemaking is like composing – Mozart wasn’t making his wines for mortals, but for God, and I kind of feel the same way.
In terms of the ageing potential of his wines, Audebert admitted that people are still skeptical about the longevity of New World wines.
“It will take time for people to understand and trust in the ageing potential of Argentinian wine.
“It’s a challenge to make a wine that is both beautiful and approachable now but will be equally beautiful in years to come. I believe the secret lies in blending.
“Despite the current trend for not ageing wines, I’m building my wines with a long-term vision and am doing so by trying to lock the freshness in.
“I’m not making wine for competitions or investors, I’m making wine for wine lovers who want to drink the stuff,” he said.
“The wines are ripe, full and intense when young but are dressed in an elegant way. I want to bring the characteristics out of the wine little by little,” he added.
Audebert also defended the idea of vintage variation in Argentina, which is something he welcomes rather than dreads.
“People think that there is no vintage variation in the Southern Hemisphere, but I haven’t found that to be true. I’m happy to have different expressions each year as it keeps things interesting,” he said.
“Our weather is certainly not the same every year, it fluctuates, but we celebrate those differences,” he added.
Owned by LVMH, Cheval des Andes is a joint venture between Terrazas de los Andes and Cheval Blanc in Bordeaux.