Ricardo Santos, celebrated Argentine winemaker and Malbec pioneer, died on Sunday evening, as reported in the national newspaper Clarín.
Santos is widely regarded as being one of Argentina’s leading winemakers, replacing outdated practices with high-quality winemaking in the country. He is also renowned for championing the nation’s emblematic grape, Malbec.
Born in Buenos Aires, Santos began his career in the wine industry after gaining an architecture degree at the University of Virginia. Upon his return to Argentina, he started working in Mendoza at the now internationally-known Bodega Norton, and would later go on to become the winery’s executive director.
During his time at Norton, Santos worked tirelessly to convince U.S. importers that Malbec was the “future of Argentine wine,” and created the Norton-Mendoza Malbec in 1971 — the first ever exported to the United States from Argentina.
As well as quality-winemaking, Santos espoused value-for-money and fair prices. In 2015, in an interview with Vinos y Vides, he said, “When we speak about ‘high-end’ wines referring only to price, we are providing incorrect information to wine lovers — mistakenly making them believe that these are better-quality wines simply because they are expensive.”
Santos also stated that he made wines in a style that he could enjoy with his family, and the best wine is that which you enjoy drinking most but falls within your budget.
His death was met with condolences and tributes from Argentine wine industry professionals on Monday, but his legacy will long live on in the form of Malbec being enjoyed worldwide.