Pablo Fallabrino of Vinedo de los Vientos
"In 2004, my mother gave me a notebook from my father with all different dessert winemaking techniques," say Pablo Fallabrino, the owner and winemaker at Vinedo de los Vientos, who's also an avid surfer around the world. "Marsala, Vermouth...I combined different techniques to make 'Alcyone'. It's a wine fortified with brandy and different herbs and aged in French oak...the reserve is fortified with grappa...people love it with chocolate and blue cheese."
With TEW since 2005, Pablo grew up in a family of winemakers. His grandfather, Angelo Fallabrino, moved to Uruguay from Piedmont in 1920, and in the 1930's he started two wineries with five different vineyards. Eventually, his father Alejandro took over, becoming one of the key players in the Uruguayan wine industry, until he passed away in 1991. When Angelo died, in 1995, Pablo took over a single vineyard-Vinedo de los Vientos, and in 1997, he decided to start his own winery.
Vineyards at Vinedo de los Vientos in June
"We started talking in 2004," says Jorge, our Portfolio Director of South American wines. "It was a process of tasting his wines two vintages in a row...Uruguay was not on anyone's topic of conversation in New York. The first year, we didn't think it was quite there, we tasted the following year and it was very good. Pablo thinks outside of the box in Uruguay...his style of winemaking is playful and adventurous...[in the beginning] we ordered 20 cases of his Tannat dessert wine...and it sold out that day." The 20 cases were picked up by Chanterelle and by Artisanal. "...We were probably one of the first importers to have wines from Uruguay."
Located just 4km from Atlantida, a coastal city, Vinedo de los Vientos, or "Vineyard of the Winds," sits where the River Plate estuary meets the Atlantic Ocean. With 17ha under vine, the family practices sustainable farming. "It's really wild," says Pablo, "we don't like an overworked vineyard." Using no insecticide and no-till farming, they do not filter their wines, and only fine with egg whites if necessary. They employ 20% selected yeasts, "just to start the fermentation," says Pablo, "...then you have yeast in the air...ten days after harvest, yeast is everywhere.
"In 2000," says Pablo, [I realized] "I wanted to do something unique, so I started to produce blends...[using] old winemaking techniques. The white ["Estival"] is a blend, but it's fermented all together...I use the ripasso technique for Tannat...now I'm planting Italian varietals."
With their recent acquisition of Catedrral, 10ha of vineyards at 500m, Vinedo de los Vientos now has the highest vineyard in Uruguay. They'll plant six varietals in this experimental vineyard and, "for three years, we'll harvest and select the best varietals," says Pablo. "It's two to three degrees [C] cooler than the other [vineyard]...and it's steep, so we'll have to make terraces...I want to see how the grapes develop there, to start natural, then see what I have to do.
"I produce something unique every vintage," adds Fallabrino. "It depends on the weather. In Uruguay, it's not easy to produce something consistent. Good, yes. But if I don't produce the same wine year after year, I'm not worried."