Full name: Germán Di Cesare
Twitter Handle: @geriswine
So, let’s start at the beginning. You started back at Trivento in 2002, fresh out of an enology degree at university, studying under veteran winemaker Manuel Gonzalez. We flash forward to today, and now you’re the veteran winemaker. And the head winemaker! But where did it all begin? Did you always know you wanted to make wine? Did you come from a ‘foodie’ family? You’re also an accomplished horse rider and musician, so we are quite intrigued by your background! Please tell us more…
My life and work are still similar to how they used to be when I was a child, obviously some things have changed. Things centre around nature and being free and happy. Most of my friends are from the neighbourhood where I grew up and we’d play football in the plaza, have barbeques on Saturdays, and were involved in the church’s youth group activities on Sundays.
At the weekends we also went horseback riding and took trips to the mountains. Some Fridays we’d go to Lavalle in northern Mendoza, to an estate with 8,000 hectares of wild countryside. There was no water, no electricity and no accommodation and we witnessed the tough life of the caretaker who looked after hundreds of horses, cattle and goats.
We’d take him clean water, food, medicines and other necessities. The time was dedicated to helping with the animals— breeding, training, drinking, playing cards and guitar… I had the time of my life!
Leading from the previous question… most wine drinkers will know of Mendoza, where you have about 1300 acres of vine to play with (right?). What is Mendozan wine about to you, what is the terroir of the region? Are there any other regions that compare?
Trivento Wine reflects the quintessential Mendoza— the winds, the mountains, harsh winters, crystal clear water and the storytelling of the locals. It’s all tied, directly or indirectly, to the vineyards and/or wine.
The combination of soil and climate make each winegrowing region unique, what binds them together is the passion and love from the people who live there.
Asides from wine (and grass fed steak?), what else might we find you eating and drinking? I remember that you were sad you couldn’t stay in London very long, because you were looking for beer!
I love craft beer because the brewers hide little secrets. I also like craft vermouth, cognac and calvados, some of these are being very well-made by my friends here in Mendoza.
What’s a ‘day in your life’ like?
I wake up early in the morning and head over to the winery to start tasting wines. At 9am I call the oenological team to also start tasting. I’m very strict when sampling the wines as the decisions we make during this time and our conclusions are very important for the rest of the day’s work.
Once the tasting objectives are taken care of, I head over to the winery, the lab or the vineyards. My happiest days are during harvest when sometimes I’ll have to cover two or three vineyards. I also enjoy travelling to different markets where our wines compete with thousands.
In the afternoon, I go running around Vistalba, Luján de Cuyo, surrounded by old trees, old vineyards and boutique wineries. But I have to be honest here—I don’t run every day.
In the evening I like to have a home-made dinner with Vanina, or a big Argentine asado with wine amongst friends.
What I really hate is paper work, but I can’t be the only one.
Could you give us an insight into the Argentinian wine industry?
It’s a dynamic industry which is continually growing and there’s lots of potential to develop a wide range of styles and varieties of wines. We have an enviable diversity of terroirs and enormous potential to position other varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, etc., among the best in the world—much like we did with Malbec.
What’s your greatest/most memorable professional moment been, so far?
My greatest memory was in 2011 when the company’s directors placed their trust in me and my abilities, and appointed me head winemaker for the design and production of Trivento Premium and Super-premium wines.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had, how did you overcome it, and what did you learn from it?
Many of the challenges that this beautiful industry has presented to me have been resolved through great teamwork but others have been personal. My team of winemakers and I produce wines with rigid specifications for a demanding customer base. We also make the top-selling Malbec in the UK and because of its consistent quality, its popularity has grown year after year.
Personally, I’ve accepted a challenge to myself to research and test new varieties and terroirs, and to show the world that we create wines with love and passion. In terms of wines, my greatest achievements have been Trivento Reserve Malbec and Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec.
But come to think of it, each challenge, experience and person I have met have brought great lessons! My philosophy is to honour your word, order and organisation, but above all, love what you do.
Who’s the person who’s most inspired you in your work – food industry or otherwise? Is there anyone that you draw inspiration or strength from? Do you have any specific culinary influences?
My parents are my role models, they taught me respect and responsibility. My grandfather was my hero because he was so kind to me when I was a child and he spoiled me with simple surprises. They are very special people in my life, who seem to have been touched with a magic wand.
I had the opportunity in university to study under great winemakers like Ángel Mendoza, Jorge Riccitelli, José Galante and Mariano Di Paola. They are masters and examples to follow because of their legendary careers.
What do you enjoy most and least about what you do?
I enjoy the daily grind and working with my team. Whilst I’m creating wines I feel like I’m solving a puzzle in my head which continues until I finally see it served in a glass and being enjoyed by someone else.
What advice would you give to aspiring winemakers who’d want the kind of results and career that you’ve had?
I would advise aspiring winemakers to study oenology and to accept responsibility with passion and compassion. Follow your instincts and be true to yourself.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing instead?
I love mother nature, solitude, introspection and time for myself so I think maybe I would have been an archaeologist. Perhaps even a musician!
If you could get anyone to try your wines (fictional or real, living or dead) who would you pick and which of the wines would you like them to try? Assume that they go on to be your brand ambassador…
I would give a Golden Reserve Malbec, with the utmost pride, to General Don José de San Martín—Argentina’s foremost founding father. He’s also known as the Patriot Father and as the Liberator of the Americas. Beyond being a great military strategist, he was also an excellent politician and a brave commander in chief. His actions defined the destiny of our country and others in Latin America. If I could meet him, I’d present him the wine as a tribute to his legacy.
What’s your ultimate aim and goal for Trivento? If you could achieve anything with it, what would you pick? Money and reality are no obstacle, so shoot for the moon…
You know, I should mention what I’ve been doing lately, and with very satisfactory results: producing small batches of terroir wines (Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, etc.). The challenge is in respecting the aromatic profile and texture which are established in the vineyard. In other words, I design the wine in the vineyard and the intervention once at the winery is practically null. These wines transmit what the terroir has to say, without consideration of those who taste it.
From one point of view they are selfish and inconsiderate wines, but they awaken the curiosity of those who are looking for rarities or hidden treasures.
And we always ask three customary ridiculous questions…
If you had a day to spend in the life and body of your seven year old self (but with your current experience and mindset), what would the first three things you would do?
I’d be happier… I’d hug my mum, play with my toys and spend some time with my grandpa.
If you could swap lives for the day with any fictional character (and you’d be guaranteed to return to your life after 24 hours), who would you choose, and why?
Zorro because he’s brave and principled, a gentlemen who doesn’t seek fame but the well-being of others. He’s solitary, yet has the unconditional support of Bernardo (which in my case would be an excellent group of professionals to work with on a daily basis).
If you had to become some kind of vegetable related superhero, which would you become, and what would you superpower be?
A potato with the ability to crush the wicked under mounds of mashed potatoes.