Matías Michelini from Passionate Wine told me a story yesterday that cracked me up.
“I was driving around one day when I saw a cask in someone’s garden. It looked amazing, old oak, something I wanted to get my hands on. So I stopped off and asked the owner if he’d sell it to me.
“The owner pointed at his dog, and said ‘I can’t because then he won’t have anywhere to sleep.’
“So I went out and bought a brand-new plastic kennel and went to back to the guy’s house with it. ‘Will you sell it to me now?’ I asked him. He said he’d let the dog decide. And the dog quite liked it, but it went back to the cask kennel anyway.
“Eventually I got my hands on the cask and cleaned it up. It had come over from France in the 1940s and I found a tonelero, an old cooper who was about 70 years old, to sort it out. He refurbished it so it was like brand new again then asked me what level of toasting I wanted: light, medium or heavy. He’d worked out a way to toast it with an electric radiator.
“I made Montesco Punta Negra Pinot Noir 2014 in this 1948 cask. The grapes are harvested from Gualtallary, Uco Valley, and there’s 2,200 bottles. Its named ‘black peak’ after Cerro Punta Negra, which is what you see from the vineyard where these grapes come from.”
Come Wine With Me: There’s little greater pleasure than sampling a wine with its maker on home turf. This Pinot Noir is fresh and fruity, honest and mineral, lightly spiced. That chalky texture, textbook Gualtallary, is all over the mouth.