It combines the dark, ripe, concentrated flavors and aromas of its famous
French siblings Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, with a richness and smoothness on the palate that has turned it into the flagship wine of the Andean region of Mendoza, Argentina.
In 1981, my father was invited to work as a visiting agricultural economics
professor at UC Berkeley, in California. For a winemaker, it was an inspiring, even thrilling
time to be in California. The Californians were challenging the French hegemony on luxury wine,
daring to compete with the best wines in France. In Napa Valley, my father learned of the 1976 Judg
ment of Paris, a competition in which Napa wines came out ahead of their counterparts in Burgundy and
Bordeaux, and began to think about making grand wines in Mendoza.
After moving back to Argentina, my father became obsessed with the quest for quality. He initially
devoted most of his attention to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, but my grandfather Domingo kept saying
, “Nicolás, I have always told you that our Malbec can compete with the best wines of the world.” So after several
years of retraining and bringing back to health our old Angélica vineyard in Maipú, the quality of the juice being pr
oduced -its concentration, intense aromas, and rich tannins- was impossible to ignore.
We started to put a great deal of energy into Malbec. From that came the extreme
high-altitude plantings in the Adrianna Vineyard, in Gualtallary, the development of a selection o
f high-quality Malbec cuttings -the Catena cuttings- the new plantings in San Carlos and Altamira, and th
e next two decades of redefining every aspect of Malbec winemaking and viticulture.
Today, we are looking for balance and low yields. We prize our low fertility soils,
where the vines have to suffer a little, the plants have low vigor, and the grape clusters are small, ex
actly the way we want them. In the words of Jacques Lurton, one of the French pioneers of Argentina’s wine r
evolution: “Mendoza has an unquestionable advantage over other Southern Hemisphere countries in the quality of
its soils. Millions of years of geologic activity have given these alluvial soils at the foot of the Andes a unique struct
ure, which is extremely well adapted to viticulture. It is because of its terroir that I have great personal faith in Mendo
za as the region capable of producing the most complex and interesting wines of the Southern Hemisphere.”