Each week, as our regular readers know, we pose a series of questions to a winemaker. After another hiatus, we are back and ready to go! This week, we’re featuring Hugo Chaves, the winemaker at Quinta de Lemos.
Hugo was born in Viseu, Portugal, in 1972. Right after studying Oenology at the Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro University, in 1997, he began his career at Quinta de Lemos, and has stayed there since. A lover of the wines of St-Emilion, he professes his preference for intense and full-bodied wines.
Check out the interview below the fold!
Where were you born and raised?
City of Viseu, Portugal
When and how did you get into wine?
At Quinta de Lemos in 1997
What has been your career path to where you are?
I graduated in Food Engineering and in 1997, I received the offer to help develop the project that is, today, Quinta de Lemos.
In your view, what makes your vineyards special?
The relationship and knowledge that I have with the vines and its varieties.
What is your general winemaking philosophy?
Preserve the quality of the grapes.
What’s your biggest challenge as a winemaker?
As much as possible, not altering or disguising the characteristics of each variety.
Who are your favorite winemakers in history, through personal account, or their wines?
All of them, each one has its own way of thinking and interpreting. All styles of wine are good when well-made and positioned correctly.
What new winemakers are you most excited about, and why?
I’m not sure about up-and-coming winemakers, but the region that excites me the most is Bairrada.
What’s your favorite wine region in the world – other than your own?
While it’s not my most favorite wine, I love the charm, the enchantment, and the wisdom of St. Émilion, Bordeaux.
What’s the best wine you’ve ever tasted? The most interesting?
The best, probably Petrus, and the most interesting an old Austrian Riesling.
What’s the oldest bottle in your cellar? The most expensive?
In Quinta de Lemos, it’s Dona Georgina 2005, but in my own house, I don’t cellar truly exceptional wine – just wine for everyday enjoyment!
What’s open in your kitchen right now?
Alvarinhos from the Vinho Verde region in Portugal.
Is beer ever better than wine?
How do you spend your days off?
With family and friends.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
That I am a ship-owner, I have two fishing boats, I fish daily at sea and sell my catch.
If you weren’t making wine for a living, what would you be doing?
I would be a chef.
How do you define success?
Success is to reach a goal/target with a road full of joy, making fair and true decisions with friends and family surrounding me.