Behind the Bar – Tatiana Nessier

Tatiana Nessier, Brand Ambassador & Sommelier, Alamos Wines
Tatiana Nessier was born in Northern Argentina’s remote and breathtaking Salta region, well known for its concentrated wines and rugged landscape. Partway through her university studies is when her passion for wine took root, and what began as a casual interest in the topic soon blossomed into an all-consuming course of study. Tatiana stepped away from her formal university coursework for two years to dedicate herself to sommelier studies at the Escuela Argentina de Sommeliers, where she learned the science of deductive tasting and mastered subject matter covering global wine regions, varieties, classic producers and trends. In 2012 she began working with the wines of Catena in Mendoza, hosting trade guests at the winery, and today represents Alamos wines at home and internationally.

After living and traveling in many places, Tatiana finds her current home in Mendoza—overlooking the spectacular Cordón del Plata with the Uco Valley just beyond—the perfect place. She enjoys gathering there with friends for asado, traditional Argentine BBQ, with which she frequently pairs Alamos Special Selection Malbec. When cooking, another favorite pastime, Tatiana likes making empanadas salteña, a classic dish hailing from her homeland which finds a terrific accompaniment in the crisp, refreshing character of Alamos Torrontés.

Can you tell us a little about Alamos Wines and your wine portfolio?
The Alamos collection of wines embodies the adventurous spirit of Argentina: a blend of rich culture and our high-altitude Andes wine growing. Our high-elevation combination of intense sunlight, cool evening temperatures and natural irrigation from mountain snowmelt yields wines of incredible flavor and character.

We keep our crops low to ensure quality and to allow the vines to develop highly concentrated flavors in the grapes. At elevations of 3,000 to 5,000 feet in Mendoza and soaring to 10,000 feet in Salta, these high altitude vineyards provide the ideal elevation, climate and sun exposure to yield grapes with the rich, layered aromas and flavors of our hallmark varieties. The result is a collection of flavorful, approachable and authentically Argentine wines of exceptional quality and expressiveness.

The Alamos house style, led by winemaker Lucia Vaieretti, is to make luscious, fruit-forward wines that are very balanced with wonderful acidity and structure. We want our wines to be flavorful and accessible, but still remain very authentic and true to the characteristics of Argentina. Our Alamos collection includes the classic Argentine varieties Malbec and Torrontés, alongside a flavorful Red Blend, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

What does your job as Brand Ambassador entail?
As Brand Ambassador, I get to travel around the world and share the adventure of Alamos wines. I lead classes, tastings and talk to people who want to know more about Alamos wines.

Describe the Alamos vineyards. How does the climate in your vineyards affect the wine?
The Alamos vineyards are incredible! We grow all of our wines in high-altitude vineyards in Argentina, in the Mendoza and Salta regions tucked beneath the shoulder of the Andes Mountains. These vineyards epitomize the adventurous spirit of Argentine wine growing, and we hope that excitement and bold sense of adventure is reflected in our Alamos wines.

Most of our wines are grown in Argentina’s most famous wine region, Mendoza, where our vineyards are planted at 3,000 to 5,000 feet in elevation. We grow our Torrontés in the even higher-altitude region of Salta, where vineyards are planted at up to 10,000 feet.

Our elevations and vineyard locations give us incredibly unique growing conditions that are rarely found elsewhere. Our intense sunlight and crisp, clean air allow our grapes to develop very concentrated, ripe aromas, flavors and color during the day. At night, temperatures drop considerably, and these cold nights allow our fruit to retain its fresh acidity and help develop beautiful, soft tannins. Because of the Andes, our vineyards are largely protected from rainfall, so we irrigate the vineyards with mineral-rich snowmelt from the mountains. All of this contributes to what we call terruño—which is a word that describes the character of the vineyard and environment. Alamos wines are a true expression of Argentine terruño.

Apart from the wine, what’s your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of my job is seeing people enjoying our wines and getting really excited and wanting learning more about Alamos and Argentina. If you just take an extra few minutes to listen to people and learn what excites them about wine, you can completely transform their tasting experience into something they’ll never forget. It may be their first wine from Argentina and I love to see people’s reactions when they taste Alamos for the first time. They may not realize how fruit-forward Malbec is, for example, or how much complexity and depth there is to our Cabernet or Chardonnay. They maybe haven’t heard of Torrontés or Bonarda, which is a grape that’s part of our Red Blend. Our wines are adventurous and accessible at the same time. So, whether someone is new to Argentinian wines or very experienced and knowledgeable, I like finding something to share that gets them more excited about Alamos and our unique high-altitude vineyards.

When did you know you had become an oenophile?
Wine has always been part of our daily life in Argentina. We drink wine at a Monday lunch or Friday evening, there´s always wine on our table. I grew up living across from a winery and I already had friends working in the industry. Having lived in Venezuela for many years made me sort of an “ambassador” of my country, telling my international friends about how life was “down there,” what we did and what it looked like. Now I am still an ambassador of my country, being able to showcase our Alamos wines and giving a piece of sky, mountains and soil of Argentina every time we share a bottle.

I decided to make wine my career when I was at University in Argentina. I was discovering all the wonderful depth and history and complexity of wines. What started out as having fun discovering a new wine or two became all I wanted to learn about. It’s that sense of adventure and discovery that led to me leaving my university to take up my sommelier studies. I spent two years at the Escuela Argentina de Sommeliers, where I dedicated myself to learning all I could about wine regions, varieties and tasting methods. I completed my studies in 2013, earning the title of International Sommelier, endorsed by the prestigious CETT (Tourism and Hospitality University, Barcelona, Spain). I joined Alamos in 2012. I love making people’s tasting experiences more personal, more fun and more educational, all things I can do here at Alamos.

If you had to pick one Alamos wine to best describe yourself, what would it be and why?
I would pick the Alamos Malbec Selección. It’s rich, bold and complex, with many layers of flavor that appeal to a wide variety of people. It’s also an incredible reflection of the place where it’s grown, our terruño. As a native Argentinian, I am very proud of our vineyards and our wine heritage. Malbec is very important to our Argentine culture; it’s the pinnacle of our winemaking achievement. I think our Malbec Selección reflects the passion and depth of Argentina.

What would you say is the perfect food pairing for an Alamos wine?
Alamos’ red wines are a great partner for empanadas, a rich and savory filled pastry that is extremely popular in Argentina. Our red wines also match well with robust meat dishes, especially asado, our traditional barbecue, or other grilled meats. But Alamos wines also pair well with pizza and pasta—we make our wines to be very food-friendly.

If you want to be very traditional, I think Torrontés is an ideal match for humita, a native Indian corn cake made from fresh-ground corn mixed with ingredients like onion and spices, then steamed inside a corn husk. Humita is a dish from Salta, the region where we grow our Torrontés. It’s a natural pairing. Humita is similar to Mexican tamales, which would also pair well with our Torrontés or Chardonnay. It also pairs really well with spicy and Thai dishes.

In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception about wine?
I think the biggest misconception about wine is that it is inaccessible or confusing. Wine is meant to be enjoyed with family and friends. Sometimes wine can be perceived as complicated, but really it is just about finding the flavors you like and savoring them with friends. This is why I enjoy Alamos so much, our wines are fruit-forward and accessible while still being a great adventure. With just a sip, our wines can show you the flavors we get from vineyards grown in our fresh, clean air and sun-filled days with the Andes Mountains just off in the distance. That’s fun, and I want people to experience the fun of wine and the sense of discovery you can get from trying new wines.

Can you describe Alamos Wines in 3 words?
Adventurous, Bold and Flavorful!

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