Argentine Wine, from Mendoza


Luigi Bosca
“Established in 1901 by Leoncio Arizu, Bodega Luigi Bosca is the oldest family owned and run winery in Argentina. Currently managed by the third and fourth generations of the Arizu family, Alberto Jr and Alberto Sr., it is one of the few winemaking firms that is still owned by its founders. Its reputation, gained over the years, has made it the paradigm of Argentine wine. The Arizu Family has always worked in the search of the ultimate expression of Argentine wine. Their perpetual search for excellence is exemplified through Mendoza’s unique terroir, innovation, dynamism and state-of-the art winemaking techniques.”

From Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate- “Luigi Bosca is the winery of the Arizu family. I met and had the pleasure of talking to Alberto Arizu whose family originates from Navarra, Spain. The family is one of the historical names of Argentine viticulture. Arizu is really passionate about viticulture and is very knowledgeable about grape varieties which he grows in their 415 hectares of vineyards. His son is also the current head of Wines of Argentina, the association of exporting wineries. The winery was created in 1901 by his grandfather, Leoncio Arizu and nowadays produces six million liters of wine per vintage.”

Luigi Bosca Malbec D.O.C. 2011
Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina. Single-vineyard Malbec. “Sourced from Bosca’s east facing La Linda vineyard in Lujan de Cuyo- Maipo. Vines average 70 years and sit at an elevation of 960 meters. Soils here are well drained and shallow based with a mix of limestone and silt. Grapes are hand harvested and meticulously sorted and destemmed upon arrival at the winery. Fermentation occurs at cool temperatures in stainless steel tanks followed by 14 months aging in new and second use French oak. The wine is lightly filtered prior to bottling. Intense violet color with aromas of cherry and ripe plum. Spiced, with mocha and blackberry hints. Gracefully sweet, with a persistent, delicate perfume and an elegant structure.”

90 Points Wine Advocate
“The 2011 Malbec D.O.C., one of the few Controlled Appellation wines (D.O.C.) from Lujan de Cuyo, is pure Malbec aged for 10 month in new French oak barrels. The wood is well-integrated and the bouquet is dominated by red fruits and flower aromas, and the wine is just a hint lactic as well as spicy, very fragrant and attractive. The palate is medium-bodied, with clean flavors, fine tannins and persistence, but a little more acidity would make it livelier. A very drinkable, elegant Malbec. Drink now-2017.”


“TintoNegro, meaning “black wine” in Spanish, is meant to celebrate the essence of Malbec in Mendoza. Known for its dark, blackish color, Malbec is definitely a Tinto Negro. TintoNegro wines are meant to reflect the heart and soul of Malbec in Mendoza. The portfolio explores the terroirs of Mendoza where Malbec does best, gradually isolating unique vineyard sites and winemaking techniques which can showcase the heights of concentration and complexity to which Malbec can aspire. TintoNegro was born of the long time friendship and professional collaboration of Alejandro Sejanovich and Jeff Mausbach, colleagues at Bodega Catena Zapata for almost 15 years. As Wine Education Director for Catena, Jeff travelled the world preaching the gospel of the unique character of high altitude Malbec from Mendoza, explaining the character and expression of its many different terroirs.”

From Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate- “Tintonegro is the partnership between former colleagues at Bodega Nicolas Catena, Jeff Mausbach and Alejandro Sejanovich. Having met both gentlemen, it is clear that they are passionate about producing top quality wine and exploiting individual terroirs in Argentina. However, I could not help feeling that occasionally the wines were picked a little too late and overworked in the winery, not in terms of oak, but rather in terms of extraction, as if their lives depending on eking out every last drop of concentration. They are clearly working with some high quality fruit here and some of the entry level wines offer outstanding value. But given the asking price of the premium labels, which, incidentally, I did not inspect until after I composed my appraisal, it pains me to say that I found more complexity and “soul” in other Argentinean wines at far lower prices.”

TintoNegro Malbec 2012
Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina. “6 months in French oak, 5% new. Sourced from Mendoza’s Primera Zona of Lujan de Cuyo and Maipu, the Mendoza blend is meant to showcase the exceptional value and approachable style of Malbec. The wine’s soft, drinkable style is accompanied by light oak aging for additional complexity.”

91 Points Wine Advocate
“The 2012 Malbec Uco Valley is a 4,000-case cuvee aged nine months in French oak, of which 10% was new. A beautiful, full-bodied, seriously endowed Malbec, it possesses a dense purple color along with a sweet bouquet of blueberry and black raspberry fruit interwoven with camphor, licorice and spring flowers as well as a touch of oak. This wonderfully endowed, full-bodied, classic Argentina Malbec should drink nicely for 5-6 years.”



Altos las Hormigas
“As in wine, all plans need a long time to bring some reward, but the philosophy of terroir immediately decanted to all other practices at Altos Las Hormigas. We believe that each intervention on the wine means a step away from its origin. No intervention is impossible, but we try to do as little as possible in winemaking. Minimal extraction, neutral oak, natural yeast, very little sulfites are just a few items to mention, that guide us in what we do. We also seek naturally low alcohol through harvesting as early as possible in each soil type. Our dedication to terroir-driven wines has transformed not only our philosophy, but the evolution of the wines.”

From Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate- “Altos las Hormigas, created back in 1995, is a prominent name among the wines of Mendoza and involves various famous names, like the Italian winemaker Alberto Antonini (ex-Antinori) or Chilean soil-guru Pedro Parra. Since 2011, and especially 2012, there has been a big change in direction and the wines show much more freshness, and less influence from oak, in search of being transparent to the different terroirs. They now focus on calcareous soils aiming for alcohol levels below 14.5% and aging the wines in untoasted oak foudres. Now there are wines from Altamira, Gualtallary and Vista Flores that have nothing in common with the 2009 Vista Flores tasted here. I had a fascinating visit with Pedro Parra. He explained that “in 2007 Antonini wanted to change the style of wines, to give them more complexity. Their model was the Altamira wine from Achaval Ferrer so we started looking for locations. Now we have made some 1,500 pits to study the soils.””

Altos las Hormigas Colonia las Liebres Bonarda 2012
Mendoza, Argentina. “100% Bonarda Argentina grapes come from high-trellised vineyards located in a unique microclimate in the area of Medrano and Carrizal de Abajo, Mendoza. Vinified with native yeasts in 300hl stainless steel tanks with temperature control for a duration of 10 days from crushing to pressing, with daily rack-and-return for a gentle extraction. The wine goes through malolactic fermentation, receiving no oak treatment in order to preserve freshness and to represent a pure expression of the Bonarda grape. A luminous red-purple hue and expressive red and black fruits on the nose provide a strong first impression of the unique Bonarda Argentina grape. On the palate the wine is fresh and lively, with a silky, smooth mouthfeel and nice volume.”

88 Wine Advocate– “Same as Clasico, the other wine from Medrano is the 2012 Colonia Las Liebres Bonarda, a very reliable unoaked, juicy Bonarda that is still very young, with some reductive aromas of meat broth that would benefit from energetic decanting that would reveal ripe red fruit and red licorice aromas. The round palate shows balance and good integration. Very drinkable and accessible. A crowd pleaser at a great price. Drink 2014-2015.”



Bodega Catena Zapata
“For over four generations, the Catena family has grown vines in the foothills of the Andes Mountains in Mendoza, Argentina. Laura Catena, great-granddaughter of winery founder Nicola Catena, has created a richly textured Chardonnay blend with floral notes, ripe tropical-fruit flavors, a strong mineral character and excellent acidity. Catena Chardonnay is sourced from the family´s vineyards in Lujan de Cuyo and Tupungato. From the marriage of these historic parcels emerges a wine of a unique character that has natural balance, concentration and a distinct varietal identity.”

From Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate- “Catena is almost equivalent to Argentine quality wine, as Nicolas Catena was the true pioneer and is still the most important wine personality in Argentina. Bodega Catena Zapata has been owned by the Catena family since 1902. Of course I paid a lot of attention to their wines and I tasted with Laura Catena and winemaker Alejandro Vigil both in Madrid and Mendoza, visited their vineyards in Gualtallary and jumped into different pits in the soil to see the differences in terroir. I was able to discuss multiple topics (including Sherry wine, as it seems to be one of his passions) with Nicolas Catena, which was a real pleasure. They are so forward thinking and smart as they are still at the head of quality wines in the country, doing amazing research and never resting on their laurels. Alejandro Vigil is one of the most passionate and intuitive winemakers on Earth, and he’s also completely crazy about wine, always wanting to experiment, to question the established ideas and to learn more. We need more of these champions in the wine world. The result can be no other than superb wines, with some groundbreaking whites that could compete with the finest white Burgundies (I’d love to do a blind tasting one day) and the most amazing Malbecs you can think of, and everything in between…”

Catena Chardonnay 2012
Mendoza, Argentina. “Whole cluster pressed; fermented, sur lies, in barrels and stainless steel. Wild yeasts. Elevage: 10 months in French oak. Barrel selection varies depending on vineyard and vintage – First, second and third use barrels used. 40% does not undergo malolactic fermentation. A Blend of Three Vineyards – vineyards are divided into lots that are harvested at different times: Agrelo (3,117 ft (950 m) elevation: citrus and peach fruit flavors. Villa Bastías 3,675 ft (1,120 m) elevation: Stone fruit aromas and a rich texture. Gualtallary 4,757 ft (1,450 m) elevation: lively floral notes, strong mineral character and cool climate bright acidity.”

91 Wine Advocate– “So let’s take a look at the 2012 Catena Chardonnay, which is a blend of different terroirs from Mendoza, Villa Bastias, Agrelo and Gualtallary, fermented with indigenous yeasts with 13.5% alcohol and a mindboggling acidity and freshness (Acidity (grams/liter): 6.20, pH: 3.22). Even if today the name Catena is closely linked to Malbec, they really started out producing Chardonnay. They launched a Chardonnay from Argentina at $20, the first expensive Chardonnay from the country. For this 2012, the vines used range from 1,300 to 1,480 meters altitude, mostly from the Uco Valley. Only 20% of the wine is aged in new wood, 50% of the wine is aged in used wood and the rest in inox. From the half aged in oak, only 20% of the barrels are new. 60% of the wine is made without malolactic. The old barrels are not filled and the wine develops a thin veil of yeast (like in Jura and Sherry). This has a Burgundian texture with great freshness. The calcareous soil is felt, and the wine is pungent, intense and impressively vibrant for a vintage like 2012. Drink 2014-2019.”


Catena Malbec 2011
Mendoza, Argentina. “This wine goes through an extensive cold maceration for 5 days at 48ºF (8,8ºC) to extract aromas. The juice is then fermented for 26 days with a post-fermentation maceration of 24 days. Wild Yeasts. Elevage: 12-14 months in barrel. Barrel selection varies depending on vineyard and vintage – First, second and third use barrels used. A Blend of Four Vineyards – vineyards are divided into lots that are harvested at different times: Lunlunta 3,018 ft (920m) elevation: ripe plum fruit flavors and silky texture. Agrelo 3,117 ft (950 m) elevation: dark fruit character, dense mid-palate and pepper notes. Altamira en La Consulta 3,593 ft (1,095 m) elevation: black cherry aromas and excellent structure. Gualtallary 4,757 ft (1,450 m) elevation: explosive floral aromatics and full, concentrated mouthfeel.”

91 Points Wine Advocate– “The 2011 Catena Malbec is produced with fruit grown in Lunlunta, Agrelo and Gualtallary fermented together with a little bit of Viognier from high altitude, which according to winemaker Alejandro Vigil had an amazing eight grams of acidity which contributed a lot of freshness to the blend. 30% of bunches fermented without destemming and as is common in the top Catena wines, these grapes from four different regions were harvested at three different points in time in search of diversity. This is very dark cherry-colored and has strong aromas of ripe plums, peach and apricot with some notes of orange rind. Medium-bodied with velvety, silky tannins, it is a good representation of Malbec in Mendoza. It is approachable now, but it should be even better in one year. Drink 2015-2018.”


Catena Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Mendoza, Argentina. “Varietal: 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Cold maceration for 5 days, fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 14 days and post-fermentation maceration for 27-32 days. Wild yeasts. Elevage: 12-14 months in barrel. Barrel selection varies depending on vineyard and vintage – First, second and third use barrels used. A Blend of Four Vineyards – vineyards are divided into lots that are harvested at different times: Agrelo 3,117 ft (950 m) elevation: black currant and cassis fruit flavors and ripe, sweet tannins. Villa Bastías 3,675 ft (1,120 m) elevation: spicy aromatics and pepper notes. Altamira en La Consulta 3,593 ft (1,095 m) elevation: finely grained and sweet tannins. Gualtallary 4,757 ft (1,450 m) elevation: notes of eucalyptus, minerality and firm tannins.”

90 Wine Advocate– “the 2011 Catena Cabernet Sauvignon is complemented by 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. The grapes are sourced from different Uco Valley vineyards, Villa Bastias, Altamira, Agrelo and Gualtallary. It is very intense with aromas of black currant and an herbaceous personality in the shape of notes of mint. It has some dusty tannins and pungent flavors in an intense, medium-bodied palate. Approachable and able to age. Drink 2014-2018.”


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