The best Malbecs of 2015 have a refinement and elegance that only occur in very cool years. We predict that the Malbecs of Adrianna in Gualtallary and Angelica Sur in Eugenio Bustos, West and South in the Uco Valley will have alcohols in the 12.5-13 range and unusually high acidities with pH's in the 3,4-3,5 range. These characteristics were due to a warm winter followed by a perfectly cool summer and 10-50% more rain than usual in the early autumn harvest months. In the Adrianna and Angelica Sur vineyards, the sloped stony soils and phenomenal drainage allowed the rains to have a mostly de-stressing effect on the vines, resulting in incredible balance of flavors. We expect that the wines of 2015 will be somewhat similar to those of 2001, when rains provoked a great deal of fear in us farmers, but which ended up being particularly age-worthy.
What was key in the 2014-2015 season was parcelization and low-yields farming. Our Adrianna Vineyard is divided into more than 200 parcels and this was particularly important this season. The areas with deeper sandy soils which usually give excellent quality, did not perform well.
The Malbec in parcels with stony and limestone soils were undisputed super-stars. Because of the warm winter, the harvest was between 10 and 15 days earlier than usual and the early harvest varieties such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir performed beautifully. Also, there was no significant hail (therefore no damaged clusters allowing rot to form easily), which was fortunate because in well-drained areas, botrytis was rare despite the heavy rains.
The most complicated variety this year was Cabernet Sauvignon which suffered a certain degree of botrytis throughout the region. Again, in well-drained soils and sectors pruned for low yields, the Cabernet Sauvignon is elegant and well balanced. But in the predominantly clay soils of Lujan de Cuyo and Maipú, there were significant problems with rot.
Achieving ripeness and being able to harvest before the 10th of April was key this year. At Catena Zapata we certainly benefited from having our own harvest crews and equipment because it allowed us to harvest at the optimal moment.