The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2014

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 28 of 148

28  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2014 SAN FRAN INSIDER A vintner and a winemaker from Argentina—both focused on making wines that express the terruño (that's terroir in Spanish) of Luján de Cuyo and Uco Valley—made stops in San Francisco last month. While their wines sit at opposing ends of the spectrum in terms of volume, they have more terruño in common than meets the eye. Just a few short years after Nicolás Catena put Malbec on the map with Alta Lunlunta in 1996, French vintner Patrick d'Aulan, who produces Malbec in both Argentina and Chile, bottled Argentina's first single-vineyard Uco Valley wine, Alta Vista Temis ($48). The Malbec vines at Temis, which is one of the coolest sites in the valley, were planted in 1942. The site's sandy, silty soils lie over limestone and produce aromatic, structured wines that benefit from spending more time on the skins. With round tannins and notes of caramel and chocolate layered among rich black fruit, Temis 2011 is also a component in Alta Vista's Terroir Selection Malbec ($29), a blend of four sites from Uco and neighboring Luján de Cuyo to the north. D'Aulan certainly has wine in his blood. His family owned the Champagne house Piper- Hiedsieck for close to 150 years, and when he bought the Alazarine vineyard in Luján de Cuyo in 1998, his enthusiasm for the site wasn't damped by that lackluster vintage. Soon after, he added the Serenade vineyard and bottled both as Argentina's first single-vineyard wines along with Temis in 2001. "These are three of the most extreme vineyards in Mendoza," said d'Aulan, who with winemaker Didier Debono makes 12 wines and a total of 150,000 cases for the Alta Vista label. Felipe Stahlschmidt, who oversees wine- making for Alamos, works with the Catena family's estate vineyards and 150 or more growers in Mendoza on sites that can reach 5,000 feet above sea level. "In Uco, we look for Malbec and Chardonnay from the western part of the valley, Cabernet Sauvignon planted in the rich, deep soils found at the lower elevations and Syrah from the south—it does best there." Stahlschmidt sources Malbec from sites including Agrelo, Tupungato, La Consulta and Lunlunta, which saw their share of zondas (strong winds) and produced lower yields during the long 2012 vintage. Of the five Alamos wines available in the U.S., the Alamos 2012 Selección Reserva Malbec ($20), a mono-varietal wine that Stahlschmidt held on the skins for 25 days, saw less new French and American oak than in previous vintages: "We're down from 80 to 50 percent new oak and up to a year in barrel." The result: There's nothing to obscure the blue and black fruit, complex brown spice and generous tannins from start to lengthy blueberry finish. And, it won't require a leap of faith for mid-tier consumers to trade up from the Selección Malbec to the Bodega Catena Zapata label, the flagship of the family's one-million case production. Argentine Terruño by Deborah Parker Wong Alta Vista's Count Patrick d'Aulan pioneered single- vineyard wines in Mendoza. (Inset) The addition of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Temis vineyard in Uco Valley distinguishes Alta Vista's Malbec- dominate Alto blend from Luján de Cuyo. Alamos winemaker Felipe Stahlschmidt is an avid mountaineer; he's climbed Aconcagua a total of seven times. (Inset) Alamos Selección Reserva Malbec's varietal typicity and generous tannins make it a mid-tier winner.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - September 2014