It takes a great winemaker to transmit terroir. Alberto Antonini is one such. Beginning as an assistant at Frescobaldi, he rose to become chief winemaker at the Antinori Winery, where he created Ornellaia, the super Tuscan. Since becoming a consultant in 1997, Alberto has worked at the world’s top wineries and is credited with putting Argentine Malbec on the wine map.
He now leads another world-class project: developing Balasto, the iconic wine of Uruguay.
Bodega Garzón, Balasto’s home, is 18km from Uruguay’s coast and 160m above sea level. The ballast soil at Bodega Garzón is stony and soft with excellent drainage and permeability. It belongs geologically to what is known as crystalline basement, which formed
2.5 billion years ago. The rock formations, altered over millions of years, gave rise to a thin and rocky soil rich in the multiple minerals that bestow vibrancy and complexity on the wines.
Balasto is the summation of all of these forces. To create the blend, Alberto supervises all year round, finally choosing grapes from more than a thousand different organic vineyards. Set within a biodiverse location that includes native forests, each site has its own microclimate, orientation, sun exposure and soil.
When the first vintage of Balasto (2015) was launched in 2017, it immediately gained accolades and high scores. It also achieved the greatest recognition of all: a listing on the Place de Bordeaux. Only a handful of non- French wines have ever achieved this status, such names as Opus One and Masseto among them.
But Alberto isn’t resting on his laurels. Each year he works to express Balasto’s terroir even more clearly, as the delicious 2016 shows. If you work in fine wine, this is a wine you must experience.