The Wine Viking at Home in Sicily

Peter Vinding-Diers’ appreciate affair with winemaking began in the early 1960s when he was a French lit university student at the Sorbonne in Paris. A pal made available him a elevate to the south of France in a manufacturing unit-fresh new Triumph TR4. Zipping through Burgundy’s bush-properly trained vineyards, Vinding-Diers had a revelation.

He liked wine and doing work in mother nature. So, what if he combined the two passions and became a vigneron?

At 79, Vinding-Diers has led just one of wine’s most notably peripatetic and intimate occupations on three continents, journeying from South Africa and Bordeaux to South America and Eastern Europe. He pioneered the return to using native yeasts in Bordeaux in the early 1980s, and aided guide a renaissance of sweet Tokaji in put up-Communist Hungary with his then-small business husband or wife, the British wine writer Hugh Johnson. Vinding-Diers has also impressed a new generation of like-minded Danes, together with his sons Anders and Hans (the latter of Argentina’s Bodega Noemía de Patagonia) and his nephew Peter Sisseck, founder of Spain’s Dominio de Pingus.

His most up-to-date chapter is unfolding on a remote hilltop in southeastern Sicily, where by he lives and makes Syrah with his spouse, Susie.

“I was dying to get my palms soiled once more,” claims Vinding-Diers of his arrival in Sicily about 20 a long time in the past, followed by the planting of his Vinding Montecarrubo estate in 2010.

“I did not have a penny then, and I nonetheless do not have a penny,” he says with a snicker, bouncing via vineyards in his dusty Land Rover Defender. “Everything goes into the farm.”

Peter Vinding-Diers nevertheless maintains some trappings of an aristocratic everyday living, even in the distant Sicilian countryside, environment up an extensive library with a portrait of his father, actor and author Ole Vinding. (Robert Camuto)

He may possibly not be that broke. This Old Globe aristocrat has typically figured out a way to reside in design and style, carting with him his loved ones oil paintings and heirlooms, his 10,000-volume reserve selection and his grandmother’s piano. His recent autobiography, Viking in the Winery, reveals a totally free spirit with a passion for viticulture and adventure.

His small-creation Montecarrubo wines aren’t offered in the United States—yet—but his guide is. His lifetime is a reminder of just how freewheeling the wine environment could be, even at its conservative epicenter of Bordeaux.

“The wine world—a great deal of it—has become soulless,” Vinding-Diers laments. “There’s a whole lot of foreign cash floating all over and speculation, and there are a ton of fine wines that will hardly ever be drunk by youthful individuals due to the fact the costs are so higher.”

The winemaker was born into a resourceful and patrician relatives in Copenhagen his father was the author and actor Ole Vinding. Right after his mother and father divorced and his mother remarried, his stepfather’s household name, Diers, was added to his own.

“My stepfather bought a barrel of Lynch-Bages every single year and had it bottled, so we experienced wine each individual day,” he recollects.

Right after dropping out of college in the mid-1960s, Vinding-Diers traveled the globe and worked briefly as a war correspondent in Africa and Vietnam. In 1968, he married Susie, a nurse born in Britain, and the couple set off for South Africa, the place his initially occupation as a winery hand was accompanied by pig-tending duties. By the time he still left South Africa five many years later on, he’d worked his way up to assistant winemaker at Rustenberg in the key Stellenbosch region.

Just after moving to Bordeaux to consider yet another wine task, Vinding-Diers was in his element—between stodginess and modernity. He created up renown operating a collection of white wine-focused châteaus in excess of 25 decades, together with Château Rahoul and Château de Landiras in Graves, where by he championed indigenous yeasts and small filtering.

Ahead of his time, Vinding-Diers thought that native yeasts from diverse vineyards put their unique stamp on wine. To demonstrate his hunch, in 1985, he fermented three batches of Sémillon from Rahoul employing indigenous yeasts from Rahoul, Lynch-Bages and a further château.

The following spring, he led a convincing tasting of his experiment for Bordeaux wine and schooling institutions, ensuing in his election to the prestigious Académie du Vin de Bordeaux.

That,” Vinding-Diers states, “was the greatest observation of my occupation.”

Becoming the dreamer that he is, much of his occupation has involved juggling buyers and financial loans and hoping to continue to keep hungry bankers at bay. In the 1990s, he turned a “flying winemaker”—a consultant shuttling amid Bordeaux, Budapest, Bulgaria and Brazil—and ultimately landed in Rome. He yearned to settle into his personal estate and, for a although, tried out dwelling in Tuscany, but didn’t locate inspiration there.

 Peter Vinding-Diers and his wife, Susie, stand in the small barrel room of Vinding Montecarrubo

Peter and his spouse, Susie, work a smaller vineyard on their estate, growing old their wines in a blend of 225-liter Bordeaux barrels and 600-liter demi-muids, also sourced from Bordeaux. (Robert Camuto)

In 2000, Vinding-Diers accompanied his mate and previous protégé Andrea Franchetti of Tuscany’s Tenuta di Trinoro to Mount Etna. The two scouted and planted vineyards for what was to turn into Franchetti’s Passopisciaro winery.

In 2003, Vinding-Diers still left Etna and headed south towards Siracusa, in which he discovered a fellow wine lover in the Marquis Giuseppe Paternò Castello di San Giuliano, who preferred to make wine on his additional than 600-acre olive and citrus estate in Melilli.

“We planted all kinds of matters,” suggests Vinding-Diers, introducing that southeastern Sicily’s workhorse purple, Nero d’Avola, did not ripen in that particular, cooler microclimate. Syrah, he states, was the star of their experiments.

Right after acquiring Montecarrubo, an outdated carob and olive estate, Vinding-Diers had a property created from his possess drawing. He then planted bush-properly trained Syrah and a bit of the white Sicilian assortment Grillo. A small but tidy winery followed.

“We’re at the edge of an old volcano that exploded two million several years in the past,” Vinding-Diers enthuses as he walks the vineyard. “When I noticed the put and noticed the soils, I experienced to have it.”

Nevertheless Syrah experienced been in Sicily for generations, Vinding-Diers discovered nearby biotypes bitter tasting, so he appeared to France’s Hermitage appellation for massal range vine stock.

“In Sicily, Syrah has evolved into other factors,” he claims. “So I wished to go to France to get the genuine McCoy.”

 Map of Sicily's key wine regions and towns

His flagship Vinding Montecarrubo wines are a pair of one-winery estate Syrahs, of which he helps make about 800 scenarios a yr. His Vigna Grande cuvée is austerely French, and his Vignolo (from vines planted in an historical seabed) is entire of eucalyptus and spices.

Vinding-Diers also will make a series of wines from bought grapes, which includes Nerello Mascalese from Mount Etna as very well as Syrah, Grillo and Bordeaux versions from farther south in Noto.

Irrespective of setbacks—such as obtaining some barrels stolen and shedding his entire 2021 estate crop to smoke injury, stemming from a vine-singeing hearth established by a regional shepherd—Vinding-Diers states Sicily is his closing move.

“I adore the wildness in this article and the individuals,” he states. “They are difficult personnel, honest—most of them—and satisfied. It reminds me of my childhood in Denmark.”