Tom from Chateau Amsterdam
Netherlands is definitely not a wine-producing country (even if you can find some vineyards and wines here as well). But it's absolutely a wine-loving country! And what if someone bold and passionate decided to combine two worlds: high-quality grapes from wine countries and an urban cellar in the heart of Amsterdam? Some nifty wines can be a result! That’s how Tom Veugen from Chateau Amsterdam Winery is rocking the wine world with his new project - the cellar in the city. He travels to France, Italy and Spain in search for the best organically grown grapes, brings them to Amsterdam and together with his partner - winemaker Jos - they do some magic. The result - wonderfully balanced organic Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo.
We asked Tom a few questions, hope you are excited to get to know him better!
Tell us a few words about yourself.
I'm Tom, I grew up in a small town in the East of Belgium. I started playing music at the age of 14. That's when it came to mind that I wanted to be a professional guitar player. So by the age of 18 I started studying music, first jazz music in Antwerp, for a year, and then I moved to Tilburg (Netherlands) to study pop music. I played in various bands for the last 12 years. Till last year, my whole life was all about music. Apart from that, I've always been big a food and wine lover. Cooking for me is so closely related to music, or arts, it's all about creativity. When I bumped into my girlfriend (who's a professional cook) I wanted to take things to another level, so I started to put more focus on cooking and wine tasting. That’s how my love for wine got into a new level.
How has wine changed your life?
Wine teaches me, more than anything else, to realize I'm part of something bigger. It teaches me to go with the flow and to be with what is. Harvests cannot be rushed, wine cannot be rushed, it's a matter of respecting nature, the bigger picture, and letting things become what they ought to become. It's about trust, I guess :).
How has it all started - your passion for wine, and your project?
I really started to dig deeper once Chateau Amsterdam crossed my path. I started to work in the winery as a producer, I was in charge of getting the grapes from France, Italy and Spain to Amsterdam, in one piece. Once the grapes were processed, I started to help out the winemaker and got really enthusiastic about the whole process. So, I decided to stick around and see what was left for me to discover. That's when the wine bug really hit me. Jos, the winemaker, taught me so many things about winemaking, tasting, different wine regions and the varieties they produce. From there on, there was no way back. I took the WSET course and discovered there was so much more to learn about wines. Every single bit of knowledge got me going even more. So now, here we are, a few months further, running the place, and feeling more love for wine than ever before.
Favorite wine and matching dish?
I'm quite the shellfish lover, so I drink mostly light and fresh white wines. I prefer unoaked wines with some acidity. So, for instance, a nice Sauvignon Blanc or Chablis. I recently enjoyed a super nice Falanghina that keeps popping up in my mind. So yeah, that with some clams or razor shells, that's all it takes to put a smile on my face for the next few hours.
The best wine destination you’ve been to? Where would you like to go?
The nicest place I visited was Lageder, in Sud-Tirol, Italy. We were visiting our fellow farmers who deliver us the Chardonnay when we decided to take a tour down to Lageder where Jos, our winemaker, learned all the ins and outs about winemaking. They welcomed us with such great joy and let us taste their complete range of wines. And boy, do they make beautiful wines! We spent the afternoon having lunch in their backyard, the food was superb as well. So yeah, that's a place worth visiting for sure!
How do you learn about wine?
Of course, it helps to have some basic knowledge. For me that came by doing the WSET course and tasting with friends and colleagues. But from there for me it was all about having fun, trying random wines in restaurants or wine shops and just discovering what I like. I learn from tasting and discovering the story behind each bottle. I get inspired by fellow wine lovers or customers I meet in the winery.
Share your favorite wine apps/resources
The only app I use is Vivino. And I really don't use it that often. I like the stuff Wine Folly puts out on Instagram. Next to that it's just checking out fellow winemakers' profiles or restaurants/sommeliers I like.
Pair your favorite wine with a song?
That's a difficult one! When visualizing the combination of music and wine, straight away the image of a cold autumn evening pops up in my mind. Artists like Nick Drake work well for the evenings like that. Soooo, let's do Nick Drake's River Man combined with a glass of Amarone!
Wine-plans for the future?
We just released our first vintage, consisting of a Chardonnay (steel and oak), Tempranillo, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. We did a small amount of just 6000 bottles. In the next few years, we'd like to play around with some different grape varietals and scale up, so more people can enjoy our wines. It might be fun to bring some more unknown varieties to the city and see if we can get people enthusiastic about it. Our main goal is to make beautiful wines, straight from the heart, with love as the only additive. It's exciting to explore how far we can push that goal!