Blends beckon

30 August, 2016

Enotria & Coe looks after Grupo Peñaflor’s portfolio of wines in the UK and wine director Dirceu Vianna Junior MW says: “Argentina practically built the Malbec category, therefore it owns it. This is a strong USP. Yes, we are seeing wines from Chile, New Zealand and varietal labelled French examples. However, Argentina is synonymous with Malbec. It is intrinsically linked and the category is way ahead of any other country. The style is fruit-forward, ripe, succulent, broadly consistent and gives consumer pleasure.”

Zuccardi head winemaker Sebastian Zuccardi says: “Understanding our terroir is our biggest opportunity and is one of our pillars that we continue to work on every day. Since 2008 the winery has had an area of research and development, dedicated to the study of the terroir and the different variables that affect wine.”

The company recently opened its Zuccardi Valle de Uco winery in Paraje Altamira, Uco Valley. Zuccardi says: “This area has special characteristics: wide heterogeneity of soils, cool weather and temperature range. The winery is a tribute to the mountains that define the climate and the soils of the region.

“We are looking for a fresher style of wine. We pick earlier than before and use larger, untoasted and older oak. The aim is to make wines that show the place they are from and not the influence of the winemaker,” he adds.

The then Claro Wine Group, searching for the best terroir in Argentina, bought its first area of land for vineyards in 1997. Today, its Doña Paula brand has more than 760ha in the premium areas of Luján de Cuyo and Uco Valleys within Mendoza.

Gualtallary is one of Mendoza’s newest and most sought-after regions and Doña Paula has more than 135ha of vines planted in this area.

Now part of the Santa Rita Estates division, the Doña Paula brand is exported to more than 50 countries. Brand manager Lucia Mallea says: “Malbec is the Argentinian flagship variety. It’s what we mostly sell and it represents us in the world. We are still studying the characteristics of Malbecs from different soil and climate conditions and learning how to get the best from every region.

“Besides, we think the future of Argentina is Malbec-based red blends with varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Pinot Noir, among others. Red blends have more complexity and allow us to show the best expression of each individual terroir. Doña Paula’s portfolio includes a red blend at every price point,” says Mallea.

Doña Paula head of viticulture Martin Kaiser has, for the past seven years, been working on the Terroir Project to better understand the influence of the climate, soils and grape varieties in Doña Paula’s wines. Kaiser has devoted much of his time to conducting extensive research through Argentina’s terroirs.

A significant discovery was layers of calcium carbonate (limestone) in some soils and later confirming that it has an effect on the wines. The study of more than 1,000 sites in the brand’s vineyards has shown that limestone is quite common in the region but the effect of its presence is only relevant in cool-climate regions (for example in the highest areas of Uco Valley), where flavours are riper compared with soils with less limestone.

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