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Argentina's high altitude wines are best for your heart

Catena cabernet sauvignon wines from Argentina are shown to be 2 to 6 times more potent than a selection of red wines from France, Spain, Italy, Chile and Australia.

Are wines from high altitude vineyards better than any other wines at preventing heart attacks? Recent research by Professor Roger Corder, head of the Department of Experimental Therapeutics at the William Harvey Research Institute in London, supports this hypothesis.

Studies have shown that red wines are much better than white wines in preventing heart disease. Scientists believe that the polyphenols in red wine seeds and skins hold the key to this phenomenon [1]. High altitude wines are particularly rich in polyphenols. Why? Because UV radiation increases at higher elevations and results in a greater concentration of polyphenols in these wines.

The high altitude wine growing region of Mendoza, Argentina, at 2500-5000 feet elevation, is home to some of the highest vineyards in the world. In December of 2002 Bodega Catena Zapata sent samples of two Cabernet Sauvignon wines to Professor Corder for testing. The Catena wines had a higher polyphenol content than any of the wines tested by Professor Corder for his famous Nature article [2]. Furthermore, the Catena wines were 2 to 6 times more potent than any of the other wines [from France, Spain, Italy, Chile and Australia] tested in inhibiting Endothelin-1, one of the major culprits of atherosclerotic plaque formation and heart disease.

Professor Corder, in his groundbreaking research published in Nature magazine [2], has shown new evidence for how wine might help prevent heart attacks. He has found that red wine - particularly red wine rich in polyphenols - is a potent inhibitor of Endothelin-1 [2]. Endothelin-1 causes constriction of heart vessels and leads to the formation of atherosclerotic plaque [3]. This research is particularly important now that the popular theory that wine prevents heart disease through its antioxidant properties is no longer considered as a likely explanation. Clinical trials of antioxidants in coronary artery disease have shown very little benefit in terms of reducing the incidence of heart attacks [4].

Professor Corder is currently doing research on the wines from the hilly region of Nuoro, Sardinia, and the Republic of Georgia, as he thinks the consumption of wines from high altitude vineyards may contribute to a greater life expectancy. Both these parts of the world have an unusually high number of centenarians. 

Our suggestion... drink Argentine wine made from some of the highest vineyards in the world. After all, wouldn't you rather drink medicine that tastes good? 

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Data from Professor Corder's Nature Magazine Article compared with new data on Catena wines
Potency is a measurement of the wine's capacity to inhibit Endothelin-1, a vascular peptide hormone that causes arterial vasoconstriction and atherosclerotic plaque formation. 

Wine from Catena  Potency Polyphenol level
Catena Alta Cabernet Sauvignon 2001  1075 10.91
Catena Cabernet Sauvignon 2001  935  9.96

 Wines from Nature article [2]

Cabernet sauvignon, 2000, Argentina 556 8.99
Chianti, 2001, Italy  370 6.21
Cabernet sauvignon, 2000, Chile  345 7.97
Bordeaux, Haut Medoc, 1994, France  313 9.76
Merlot, 2000, Chile  256 6.13
Shiraz-cabernet sauvignon, 1999, Australia  244 7.63
Crozes-Hermitage, 1999, France  244 5.94
Cabernet Sauvignon, 1999, Australia  238 6.75
Merlot, 1999, Australia  192 6.43
Merlot, 2000, Chile  156 5.91
Bordeaux, Fronsac, 1997, France 154 6.96
Cabernet sauvignon, 1999, Spain  143 6.13
Shiraz, 2000, Australia  116 5.72
All Rose and White wines tested  <10 <1.3

[1]. Frankel,E.N. et al. (1993) Inhibition of oxidation of human low-density lipoprotein by
phenolic substances in red wine. Lancet 341:454-457
[2]. Corder, R. et al.(2001) Endothelin-1 synthesis reduced by red wine. Nature 414, 863- 864.
[3]. Kinlay, S. et al (2001) Role of endothelin-1 in the active constriction of human atherosclerotic coronary arteries. Circulation 104, 1114-1118.
[4]. Heinecke, J.W. et al (2001) Is the emperor wearing clothes? Clinical trials of vitamin E and the LlDL oxidation hypothesis. Arterioscler. Thromb. Vasc. Biol. 21, 1261.