Each week, as regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. This week, we’re featuring Antonio Fattori, the owner and winemaker of Fattori Wines in northern Italy.
Fattori is a third-generation winemaker. The family began making wine at the beginning of the 20th century, when Antonio’s grandfather planted 17 acres of vines in Veneto and started producing and selling wines locally. His son officially took over in 1970, expanding the operation by purchasing more vineyards and making more wines.
In 1979, Antonio — who had studied winemaking at both the University of Enology in Conegliano and the University of Dijon — took the helm. Today, Antonio owns 161 acres of vineyards, and they’re all located within three miles of the winery.
Check out our interview with Antonio below the fold!
What is your general winemaking philosophy?
In my opinion, it’s too much to say that one has a winemaking “philosophy.”
We are craftsmen. I believe first and foremost that a winemaker must have knowledge of his terroir — his soils and specific territory. It is only by having an intimate knowledge of your land that you are able to transform it into a vineyard and to turn your grapes into wine.
I don’t believe that a lifetime is enough time to gain all that knowledge. I also don’t believe in flying winemakers — they make wines without soul. These wines may be richly flavored, but they say nothing about the terroir or where they are from. I want to create wines that will be taken seriously, that are long-lived with minerality. I also want them to be enjoyable – wines that are important but also fun.
What’s open in your kitchen right now?
The Fattori Danieli 2009 Soave DOC.
Who are your favorite winemakers in history, through personal account, or their wines?
Daniel Schuster is my favorite winemaker. Wine is my life and my passion and I’ve been living around it since I was 15 years old. I have traveled a lot and met many people in the wine industry, and Schuster left the deepest impression on me.
In 2001, I visited him in New Zealand and tasted a Chardonnay in his cellar that was 20 years old, yet light, elegant and refined. It was the exact image of a wine that you wouldn’t think could age, yet it was 20 years old.
How do you spend your days off?
I like to spend my time either in the mountains, riding a bike, reading a book, or in an isolated area.
What’s the best wine you’ve ever tasted? The most interesting?
That same Chardonnay from Daniel Schuster in New Zealand.
What’s the oldest bottle in your cellar? The most expensive?
That would be a bottle of Azienda Agricola Marion Amarone from 1988.
What’s your biggest challenge as a winemaker?
I would say it is the chemistry and all the chemical evolutions that take place. I would like to make a white wine without using sulfur dioxide that is as good as those made using conventional vinification techniques. I am almost there, but not quite yet.
What’s your favorite wine region in the world — other than your own?
I like the South Island in New Zealand — it answers almost all of my desires. There are two magnificent wine regions there, Central Otago and Marlborough.
Is beer ever better than wine?
I have never had a beer in my life. Even the smell of beer puts me in a bad mood!
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I think they would be surprised to learn that I am actually quite nice and sensitive.
If you weren’t making wine for a living, what would you be doing?
Without a doubt, I would be an architect.
How do you define success?
Success isn’t what interests me but if I had to define it, it is the way I feel at the end of the harvest or in front of a new wine.
Success in winemaking is like success as a skier. It’s making that beautiful curve with your skis on fresh powder and then being able to turn around and admire the tracks you have made.