55malbec is a company founded by Alejandro Sejanovich and Jeff Mausbach in about 2009. Both had worked together at Catena, Alejandro in viticulture and winemaking, and Jeff in marketing. They make small quantities of two wines called Teho and Zaha, aiming to express the unique terroirs of their estate vineyards. Based on co-fermentation – making blends by mixing different varieties together during fermentation – the wines reflect subtle nuances and complexities of each vineyard. Co-fermentation helps bind tannin and colouring matter together by polymerisation. Short tannin-colour chains are rougher and spikier, longer ones are more gentle and velvety. Malbec has a lot of colour but not much tannin, so fermenting with say cabernet which has a lot of tannin, can help bind more of malbec's colour than if fermented separately. The binding also happens when blended post fermentation but is less effective.
Their Tomal and Toko vineyards are in the southern part of the Uco Valley in La Consulta, and its sub region Paraje Altamira. This is a very cool area being closer to the mountains and further south than vineyards closer to Mendoza. Some of the most aromatic and finest textured wines are coming from this area.
The name 55malbec derives from a 4ha vineyard they bought in about 2009, now named Tomal. When purchased they thought it was planted in 1955. They have since discovered one half was, but the other was planted in 1940. It is situated in the cool La Consulta region at 900m, a kilometre or so from Paraje Altamira. The soil profile is shallow, light silt, with a rocky sub soil. There are some patches of rocky top soil and surface stones in the upper southwest corner. Plantation density is the traditional number for Mendoza, 5,500 plants per hectare. Orientation is also the traditional north – south. Teho is made from the part of the vineyard planted in 1940. Teho means ‘Blood of the Earth’ in Huarpe, the name of the tribe of the indigenous population who lived in the Mendoza area.
Zaha comes from the Toko vineyard in Paraje Altamira which was bought in 2003 and planted in 2004. It is planted with an orientation 15°, north-east to south-west. Plantation density is 6,536 per hectare. The altitude 1,100 metres The vineyard is planted to petit verdot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and malbec. The soil is a mixture of rock, sand and silt with some limestone. Zaha means ‘Heart’ in Huarpe.