Q&A with Jon Usabiaga Chief Winemaker, Aresti Winery
by Paul Ruel - Wednesday July 6, 2016 10:07 am
After loving the launch of Espiritu de Chile wines, hosted byAresti wine-maker Jon Usabiaga, who hosted an informal wine tasting accompanied by some delicious dishes prepared by Pachamama, we asked him a bit more about himself, his wines and his philosophy.
- Where did you grow up?
- What did you aspire to be when you grew up?
I always aspired to live in the countryside, close to nature, and then at university I realized that I wanted my future to be close to wine too.
- How did you find your way to into the world of wine?
Somehow, it all clicked into place when I saw viniculture, or the science of making wines, as a choice to specialise in at university. I had no doubts, even though at that time (30 years ago) it was not a fashionable course to take.
I started during the 1992 vintage, in a winery that belonged to a university teacher, and I loved it from the start. Then I worked for a couple of wineries in Colchagua before joining Aresti in 2005.
- What do you enjoy about being the winemaker for Aresti?
It is a winery which is always growing and innovating, seeking out new ways to make the wines special and unique. Both within the Curicó Valley and further afield, the Aresti team have always been really supportive of developing our viniculture, so it has been a wonderful field to develop creativity and winemaking practices.
- Espiritu de Chile recently launched in the UK, can you tell me a bit more about these wines?
Espíritu de Chile was launched in 2005, with the dream of making Chile’s winegrowing tradition known worldwide. It’s a range which represents Chile’s rich and varied geography perfectly, and Chilean wine is growing in popularity in the UK so there’s never been a better time for us to launch it here.
- What makes Chilean wine special in your opinion?
The huge diversity of Chilean microclimates to grow wine grapes make our wines extremely interesting. We can grow a lot of different grape varieties in so many places and it creates a wide spectrum of alternatives. I think Chile has not been discovered properly yet, neither in quality nor in diversity! So it’s an exciting time to be a part of the industry.
- What interesting trends/themes are going on in the wine world?
I think the most interesting trends are coming from the consumers. I mean, a complete new generation of wine consumers are arriving and they are not just wine drinkers, they are wine lovers, they enjoy wine and they want to explore and try more without restrictions, which is perfect for our country. From that point of view, it gives us an enormous opportunity to continue being creative and to offer all we can produce.
- What are your four favourite food and wine pairings?
It will depend on the situation, but a crispy, fresh and grassy Sauvignon Blanc from Curicó with Oysters and some white cheese (with olive oil and touch of pepper) is one of my favourites. Sometimes, on a spring weekend, I enjoy a nice “asado” or barbecue outside with a Cabernet Sauvignon /Carmenere blend. I also love a soft Syrah with a wide range of pastas. Or even with desserts, why not?
Jon Usabiaga is the chief winemaker for Aresti Wines. For more information, visit www.arestichile.cl/en/