UPDATE: Since I wrote this piece, Todd has been discovered. He is alive and well. I believe he's trying to get back to the vines, but certainly not with Benitos. Please know: since the 201o vintage the Benitos wines are not made by Todd, not organic and not natural.
Some of you may have heard –even from me---that Todd Blomberg has been missing.
The rumors have been flying internationally for months. Had the winemaker who birthed gorgeous Albariños fallen into evil hands? Had he moved back to the United States? Japan? And where is his wife and little daughter?
I have been on this case since last February when I started to hear things then about Todd's disappearance. It started with an innocent question from his previous importer, and my friend, José.
“You heard from Todd?” he asked.
You see, I introduced the two of them, I met Todd, tasted the wines, thought they belonged in José's line up. Also, Todd played a solid role in my last book Naked Wine. We stayed in touch.
Concerned, I wrote him several times. No answer.
When in France for the Dive in February, I continued to snoop. I wasn't worried until I saw a winemaker friend of his from Spain, Bodegas Schatz.
The two men were close. They talked often. Heard from Todd? Nothing. Yes, he was worried. I asked Frederik, the Norwegian importer who introduced me to Todd in the first place back in 2010. Nothing. He was worried.
Once home I emailed a woman who makes wine in Rias Baixas, Marta. I knew her only because Todd took me to visit her in 2010, and was clearly very friendly with her. It's a small area. Her winery was close to the Benitos facility. Word certainly got to her about where and how he was?
Marta had this to say: Hello Alice, Last news I have about him, is that he had some health problems with his feet. Since them, I have not heard about him and no one knows, some people believe he had got back to USA.”
It got stranger. There was a sighting of Todd in March. Greece's Giorgos Hadjistylianou had been trying to import the BS wines. Giorgos wrote me,
I found out yesterday from Laureano Serres that Todd Blomberg is ill, and has been out of work for almost 1 month. In fact I was talking to him to import the wines to Cyprus, Todd answered to me by March 5th after he vanished. I went with Pedralonga. That's the last I heard from him.
Pedrolonga? He also chimed in that he had heard nothing of his whearabouts.
I heard they are not longer working organically, in fact the vineyard (Saiar) is not longer in the register as certified organic.
Finally, I wrote once again to Norwegian importer Frederik. Had he heard anything else over these months about the American ex-pat.
Todd is apparently sick ("health problems with his foot" according to a close friend of Todd) but the wines of Benito Santos are still for sale. He is in Spain, but is keeping a low profile due to his health situation…! We were told in spring this year that there is no more Bodega Benito Santos, but in August we heard otherwise. I don't know if there will be a vintage 2013 under the name Benito Santos, and frankly I do not care; we spent a lot of time and energy building a great market for the wines here in Norway, and we spent “a lot of time (the last 15 months) trying to find out what the hell is going on, but now we have to use our energy elsewhere ;-)
Todd’s wine were gorgeous. Who knows what he did with that butter churner and the lees, whatever it was, it worked. The older vintages are around and they're worth buying, because I personally have my doubts about the wines from the 2012 vintage on.
By the way, if you are a wine buyer and you did receive the email offering for the Benitos wines, there are some mistakes. First of all his name is Blomberg, not Bloomberg. And perhaps nothing has changed at the winery, but Todd is presently no longer there, whether there are health problems or something else going on. Anyway, Todd was never the owner. He and Benitos had some strange arrangement I could never figure out.
Now, the 2008-2010 Saiar should be still organic. It was their only certified vineyard and clearly a gem for Todd. When I was last there, Todd was slaving over the vines like a neurotic Jewish mother. The wet, rain, cold weather that year really did him in. He cursed, he said his conviction in organic would not be beaten. By the way, the Saiar vineyard was the only vineyard that was ever organic. The others are/were not.
Todd was the person who gave organic and natural love in that winery, the others were business all the way. Todd was the mad genius. So the wines from 2012 on? Not sure. Let your taste be your guide.
When I wrote in my last subscription newsletter that I wish Todd well and so hope he’s safe I was eing a neurotic Jewish mother myself.
He’s a talented guy. I find the silence part of a disturbing mystery.
If you find the wines, buy them, raise a toast to a creative genius. If Todd is sick, I wish him a quick recovery. And, Todd? Remember, you might be a nut but we love you.