Wine Advocate 92
"The introduction to the Valle de Uco is the 2016 Malbec Terroir Valle de Uco, which has grapes from La Consulta and Tupungato. In 2016, a cool year with low yields, they fermented the grapes in small stainless steel vats with indigenous yeasts, and 75% of the volume was kept unoaked while the remaining 25% matured in untoasted 3,500-liter oak foudres for 18 months. This is a Malbec that's a lot more linear and austere, with superb freshness, super fine tannins and a subdued minerality, really serious. The palate is harmonious, balanced and mineral. It's a bargain Malbec, really nuanced and with incipient complexity despite its youth. 93,000 bottles produced."
100% Uco Valley. Grapes are harvested by hand from a blend of high density vineyards located in the sub region of La Consulta as well as two areas in Tupungato. These are gravelly, alluvial soils with abundant stones, but with limited active limestone presence.
The 2016 harvest can be summed up as a kind of a bipolar one. November, December and January had extremely high temperatures which accelerated the ripening process in the vineyards. These temperatures and quick ripening can dramatically decrease the level of natural acidity in the fruit, as sugar levels rise. In order to avoid this we decided to harvest 15 days earlier than the established date. Taking the window of opportunity from mid February to March 23rd, we picked up all the Malbec, even from the high altitude, cooler climates and vigorous soils.
Grapes from different vineyards are vinified separately before the final blend. The grapes are selected from a double selection table before going to small stainless steel tanks. The alcoholic fermentation begins with indigenous yeasts at 24-28°C for 12 days. Each tank is tasted three times a day to determine what is needed. 50% of this Malbec is aged in concrete pools for 12 months, 25% in stainless steel vats, and 25% is aged in untoasted large oak foudres.
Coming from a careful selection of grapes from the oldest geological part of Uco Valley, this Malbec shows a ruby red colour with violet hints, typical of high altitude. Delicate fruity notes appear first in the nose, gaining complexity as the wine opens up, to show more firm scents of violet and red cherries. It has a fresh entry in the palate, underpinned by its succulent natural acidity. Gentle mineral notes spread through the mouth as the wine unfolds, granting a round, balanced, long finish. It is ideal to pair with Mediterranean cuisine and red meats.
Varietal: 100% Malbec
Region: Uco Valley
Winemakers: Alberto Antonini, Attilio Pagli, Leonardo Erazo
Closure: DIAM Cork
Acidity: 4.72 g/l
Residual Sugar: 1.84 g/l
Altos Las HormigasView all from Altos Las Hormigas
Wine from Mendoza is more than just Malbec: it is the reflection of a know-how, a tradition and an origin. Founded in 1995 by a consortium of prominent Italian winemakers, including Alberto Antonini of Antinori and Antonio Morescalchi, Altos Las Hormigas has always been evolving. Their Terroir Project is working towards the creation of an appellation system in Mendoza, while showing Malbec's diversity of expression according to its origin. Based on this philosophy, their portfolio shows the tremendous versatility of the Malbec, from fresh, fruit driven Mendoza Clásico from Lujan de Cuyo to the structured and mineral Malbec Reserve from the Uco Valley. Along with Malbec, Altos Las Hormigas has been crafting Bonarda for 10 years, Argentina's second most planted variety. They display its joyful and delicate nature under the classic line Colonia Las Liebres.
In 2012, Altos Las Hormigas took a significant step in their ongoing evolution from boutique value winery to the terroir-driven, serious player in the world of Malbec that they are today. After seeing the potential for wines of consequence in the Uco Valley, the team decided to stop using new oak and small barriques for all of their wines; instead going with older, untoasted, large oak foudres across the board. This decision has allowed for much more expression and elegance, especially on the sublime Appellation series of Malbec, which features the limestone-driven Uco Valley sites of Gualtallary, Altamira, and Vista Flores.
They've teamed up over the past decade with Pedro Parra, PhD in Terroir, to use various techniques to find both the ideal sites for their wines as well as a way to measure the ideal ripeness of their fruit. With Parra's guidance, the team at Altos Las Hormigas has dug over 1,500 soil pits in the Uco Valley, chasing the chalky Mendoza gold that is limestone, which imparts a beautiful minerality to Malbec. In Gualtallary, Altamira, and Vista Flores, they have found the limestone trail, where the vineyards have shallow topsoil and the vines dive deep into the calcareous mother rock. They also use electromagnetism to map out the soil depth of their vineyard sites so that they can avoid picking a whole block where, due to the warm and hilly vineyards of Mendoza, there may be some underripe and overripe grapes in addition to the ideally ripe grapes. Instead, they use that information to harvest in irregular polygons, and pick the fruit with ideal ripeness in every section.