Find out more about the world-renowned names that make up the 2014 Decanter World Wine Awards judging line-up in this Q&A series.
Patricio Tapia is Wine & Spirits’ critic for the wines of Argentina, Chile and Spain. For the past nine years, Tapia has been a host on the El Gourmet channel in South America, and he is the author of several books, including his annual Descorchados (an Argentine and Chilean wine guide), The Wines of Colchagua Valley, TodoVino, and Wines for Great Occasions.
Read our interview with Patricio Tapia below…
☆ Which year or decade do you wish you’d been born in and why?
I was always intrigued by the way people lived before the Renaissance. How obscure it was back then. How violent and insecure life was during those days. But still people – as far as I have read and learnt – were happy with just a few little things: a good harvest, a sunny day, a good piece of meat. In terms of wine, it is hard to imagine a more natural way to vinify grapes as when there was no technology available, just intuition and experience. People drinking wine because it was less contaminated than water. People drinking wine as food. My decade would be 1480, right before everything changed.
☆ How old were you when you had your first wine ‘moment’ and what was it?
When I was 17 I spent a year in Germany and would drink beer and sekt with my friends. My best friend’s father had a cellar in his house, filled with Riesling. Sometimes we also drank some of his stuff, and some bottles were forbidden.
☆ How many bottles do you have in your cellar and what is your most recent addition?
I have a cellar in my backyard. I don’t know how many bottles I have down there, but what I do know is that I have enough Baga, Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir to survive for quite a while. My most recent addition? Hundreds of bottles of Malbec that I made just for fun. It seems the only one who likes my wine is me…
☆ How many years have you been working in the wine industry and what was your first job?
I’ve spent 20 years working as a wine writer. I started writing about bars and restaurants and then, suddenly, I realised wine was a good thing to make a living out of. That was after a whole bottle of Chilean Gewürztraminer, and a few cocktails (I don´t remember how many, though).
☆ Which vintage and region (or wine) do you wish you’d bought a whole case of wine from?
I wish I have enough money to buy everything Ghislaine Barthod produces in Chambolle, as well as all the wine that comes from the cellar of Mário Sérgio Alves Nuno from Quinta das Bágeiras in Bairrada, and every single drop of Beppe Rinaldi, in Barolo. If I have that much money, I will also save some room in my cellar for the reds of Luis Anxo Rodríguez from Ribeiro, in Galicia. He is a master.
☆ In the last 12 months, which grape have you drunk the most of?
Malbec. I love it, especially when there is nothing – no oak, no saignée, no over-extraction – between the vines and the bottle. Such a juicy, “vin de soif” kind of wine! I wish had the chance to taste much more of these simpler Malbecs, the ones that don’t pretend to be the next big thing in the wine world.
☆ In the last 12 months, what’s the most exciting region you’ve discovered or re-discovered and why?
The great wines made of Sagrantino in Montefalco. It is hard to find wines these days that are more focused in structure than flavours or aromas, that see aromas as a part of the decoration and not as the essence of a wine. Antano, Paolo Bea or even Caprai are trying to do that. Please (please!) taste them. I hope they can change your world, as they changed mine.
☆ Who’s your wine idol (who has inspired you the most in the wine world)?
Many years ago, walking around the little medieval town of Arnoia (Galicia) with Luis Anxo Rodríguez, I realised that it was hard and extremely rare that a good soul could make dishonest wine. There are exceptions, of course, but exceptions never make the rule. Luis is my idol. He is a good human being and, as a side effect, he produces some of the best reds in this planet.
☆ What’s your most memorable wine and food moment?
Drinking any Manzanilla with any fried fish in Casa Bigote restaurant, in Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
☆ If you could taste/drink any wine in the world what would it be and who would you drink it with?
I would try to explain how good Amontillado can be to my two daughters. I have tried already, but they are still too young, I still need about 20 more years. I have enough time though, there’s no hurry.
☆ What do you enjoy most about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
As a South American wine writer, it is a gift to be part of this event. As a Chilean journalist, it is a tremendous honour to have the chance to taste and judge Argentine wines.
For more information on this year’s competition, including how to enter, visit the Decanter World Wine Awards website
Written by Decanter