Raul Cesar Castellani passed away yesterday, September 14, from an unexpected heart attack at age 71. As the news spread throughout the wine and olive oil communities of his passing, words that describe him are repeated: father, friend and a great mentor.
Meeting Raul was a gift. Tell him your ideas and passions and he would find a way to nurture them, guide you in the right direction and connect you to the right people. He also possessed a high level of patience, dignity and humility that helped wine and olive oil tasters around the world become even better. He had an exceptional way of making all of those around him feel as if they were uniquely special.
Although Raul was humble, he was one of the top wine experts in the world. International Wine & Spirit named him one of the Top 12 wine experts. He was first in Latin America and only second in America.
His largest contribution to the wine world was his extensive knowledge of Mendoza wines from his homeland, Argentina. We can only be grateful that he leaves us many books written on the subject such as “The Art of Wine Tasting,” “Wines and Gastronomy with Love and Humor” and “The Greatest Argentinean Wines.”
Raul was not only an expert; he was a great contributor to both the wine and olive oil sectors. During his lifetime he won awards from around the world and gave us seminars like “The History of a Different Mendoza: Men, Women and Wine.” And “Wine for Queens.”
It did not stop there. He was also a creator and organizer of a myriad of events and competitions.
This June, as president of Terraolivo, Raul organized the competition´s international tasting panel that judged hundreds of samples from around the world.
In August, Raul oversaw four of his competitions in Argentina: Vinus, Olivinus, Olivinus niños, and Olivinus Design. Vinus, has become one of the most important wine competitions in the world. The Olivinus olive oil competition has also been recognized for its importance and its offshoot, Olivinus Niños, is a competition where children under the age of 14 are the judges.
This winter, Raul would have celebrated the 20th Anniversary of La Mujer Elige (The Woman Chooses). He began the competition in recognition of role of women in choosing wines and creating markets. According to Raul, women seldom made a mistake in choosing the best wine.
He leaves inspired and well-prepared individuals to carry on his legacy and to ensure his competitions and events will not cease.