Hans Vinding-Diers is the founder, owner, and winemaker of Bodega Noemia. He runs the entire operation with his wife and seven employees. They make 120,000 bottles a year, a small production for an Argentinian winery.
The essence of Bodega Noemia is making fine, artisanal wines. Always looking for precision and the true expression of the place, in this case, Rio Negro in Patagonia.
Hans has quite a unique background; 'wine has been in his system since his early years.' His father is Danish (Viking, as he says) and his mother British, but he was born in Stellenbosch, South Africa, the most famous wine-producing region of the country. At four years old, his family moved to Bordeaux, where he grew up surrounded by wine and went to school in the famous town of Saint-Estèphe.
When Hans turned eighteen, he started traveling around the globe and making wine in several parts of the World. After 35 years, he has made wine in ten countries, including France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Hungary, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, and Australia.
In 1998 a British wine importer called him to partner and make top wines in a very old winery founded in 1909 in Patagonia, Argentina, called Humberto Canale. Funny anecdote, Hans thought the winery was in Mendoza, but when he landed at the airport of Neuquen in Patagonia, he was looking for the Andes mountain and couldn't see it. It was a flat desert.
After two years of making wine in Patagonia, he realized the region's tremendous potential for making fine wine. In the year 2000, Hans started looking for old vines because the first vines planted in Patagonia arrived around 1890; vines that came directly from France. They are called mussels pre-phylloxera, which rarely exist in France nowadays. These vines are little jewels. When he arrived in Patagonia, no one understood that. It was a clear opportunity for someone who had a vision.
2001 was the first harvest of Bodega Noemia. Back then, Noemia was an abandoned vineyard of 1.5 hectares with vines originally planted in 1932. Most vineyards in those years were replaced with fruit trees, which demanded less work, and were more profitable. To have an idea, in the 1930s, 30,000 hectares of vines were planted in Patagonia; today, there are 1,500 hectares. 95% of the vines have disappeared.
So for Hans, he made it his mission to rescue and preserve these amazing vines. He was able to rent a warehouse in town to make the first vintages. Everything was done by hand with very little but with a lot of passion.
Two years after the first harvest, he went to the London Wine Fair with a bottle of Noemia in his hand with no label and no name. He came across a respected master sommelier who knew a lot; he took him to a stand and opened the bottle for him to taste. Later two top sommeliers from France passed by and also tasted the wines. In 15 minutes, he sold 80% of the vintage. That would never have happened, even if it had been planned. It just happened. Those sommeliers put the wine on the list of their respective restaurants, and things took off immediately. Boom!!!
One of those sommeliers did a review for Decanter Magazine in the UK, giving the wine a 5-star rating - the highest. Later, Wine Spectator got a hold of a bottle through Vias Imports (casually the current national importer of Bodega Noemia in the USA) and gave the wine 94 points. We are talking about 2003; an Argentine wine with 94 points was unheard of in those years. Only Catena wines managed to get those ratings and no one else. So, basically, from the beginning, Noemia was a shining star. It was destiny. Hans knew it would be a unique project and had faith in the wines; he never imagined success would come this fast. These critics and connoisseurs reaffirmed his hunch.
Later Hans partnered with Noemi Cinzano, an Italian businesswoman related to the famous Cinzano vermouth, and named the winery after her. Obviously, he wasn't going to call it Chateau Hans.
After 15 years of ups and downs, in 2018, Hans bought Noemi Cinzano's stake and became the sole owner of Bodega Noemia. He kept the name since he didn't want to tamper with history, even though it was a very young winery.
Noemia currently exports 80% of its production, and the remaining 20% stays in Argentina. 'This helps us stay alive given we get paid in dollars for the exports and everything sold locally we get paid in local currency, which has been depreciating incredibly. But the local market is essential for us. We are an Argentinian winery and need to be present locally. We are very proud of what we make in Argentina.' Nowadays, Hans's name is up top with the prominent winemakers in Argentina, which is an honor for him.
Argentina has a special place in Hans's heart. The Argentinians have been super lovely, warm, and welcoming with him since that day he arrived. It's my home, he says. And that's pretty much the history.
How would you describe the style of Bodega Noemia? And what makes it unique from the traditional Malbec grown in other regions of Argentina? We ask because we find the wines to have a level of elegance and precision that we found them to be in a league of their own.
'The short answer is that mainly we are not in an altitude area, we are in a latitude area. We are in a 39-degree latitude, not very high, about 240 meters above sea level. Patagonia is in the middle of the desert; therefore, we have a huge thermal amplitude, which can go from 30-35 degrees celsius during the day in the growing season to almost zero at night. The climate is always dry and windy, so there's hardly any disease, which allows us to be 100% organic. The area is also very luminous, with high-quality mineral water coming from two rivers that merge and form the Rio Negro. So you have the terroir, but you also have the hand of the winemaker. In the end, I try to put what we have in the vineyard in the bottle, and hopefully, it works out…
Regarding our wines, A Lisa, we call it the 100-point wine because the price/quality is really outstanding; it's our everyday drinking wine. J Alberto is a small old vineyard of 4.5 hectares, and Noemia is the grand vineyard, which is 89 years old.'