Bodega Aniello is a young project started in 2010: a small winery looking to explore the value of the ancient winemaking tradition of Patagonia in the Rio Negro Valley, the most southerly wine region in South America.
Most people tend to think of Patagonia as a new wine-producing area and that is the case for the Neuquén region which was only recently established through government funding in the early 2000’s. Instead, the Rio Negro Valley area has been devoted to agriculture and viticulture since the 1820’s when British colonists dug irrigation channels into the dry, arid Patagonian desert on both sides of the Negro, forming a green belt along the river that was suitable for agriculture. While for years viticulture was somewhat forgotten and mostly replaced by apple and pear orchards, Rio Negro is now once again one of Argentina’s up-and-coming wine regions, and more and more producers are exploring its viticultural potential.
And so young entrepreneur Santiago Bernasconi, after years spent as the export manager for some of the largest wineries in Argentina and very much in love with the area’s history and potential, finally found the right partner to put his dream to life.
The first property was purchased in 2010: approx 30ha of an existing vineyard planted back in 1998 in the Mainque district of the Upper Rio Negro Valley, at 39 degrees South Latitude and 350mt above sea level.
The property and the deriving line of wines are called ‘006’ from the cadastral nomenclature of the estate and it is one of the few vineyards in Argentina (if not the only) located next to an actual flowing river. The image on the label depicts all of the elements of the varied alluvial-type soils that characterize the vineyard: sandy/loamy soil types alternating with stone-dominated areas are harvested and processed separately resulting in wines with different characteristics then blended to complement one another. The first commercial vintage was 2013. The 006 wines are fresh and fruit-driven, fermented in cement vats and only see partial oak aging in used barrels.
More recently, another 20ha estate was bought, along with an old winery, originally built in 1927, which is currently being refurbished. The estate also has 1ha of old vineyards planted back in 1932, 4 ha planted in 1947, all of a masale selection of pre-phylloxera Malbec and even some Trousseau. These old-vines are used for the top wines which are currently not being imported.
Louis Gutierrez of The Wine Advocate describes Aniello as “A name to follow in the Rio negro area of Patagonia” and rated the 006 wines area consistently rated 90+ by the major trade publications.