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Mendel’s Argentine take on the great white grape of Bordeaux hails from a 70-year-old vineyard in Paraje Altamira, lending the wine a wonderful unforced concentration and greengage flavour. 15% of the wine was barrel fermented and aged for about four months, resulting in a light oak aroma.
Product Code: AR3881
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Mendel is an old bodega situated at Drummond, Mendoza, built in 1928 and which was bought by the Sielecki family in 2002. They employed the highly respected Roberto de la Mota to make the wines. The wines are quite European in style, firm and structured as opposed to the more usual soft and fruity style, and are designed to develop in bottle. These wines are best enjoyed with food and benefit from decanting 30 minutes before drinking.Mendel have a number of excellent vineyards. Finca Mendel surrounds the bodega at about 900m of altitude in Mayor Drummond was planted in 1928 to malbec at the old density of about 5,000 vines per hectare, quite high by modern standards, and excellent for quality. They are interspersed with olive trees. The fruit of this vineyard goes into their Malbec bottling. Recently a massale selection of petit verdot from Château Margaux has been planted here.At Perdriel, Finca de los Andes is situated at about 1,100m and planted to malbec in 1928, with some cabernet planted about 20 years ago. The malbec and cabernet go into the Unus bottling.In the cool Altamira district to the south of Mendoza they are buying semillon and malbec thought to be about 70 years old. The semillon goes into the varietal bottling while the lovely floral, mid-weight, exquisite malbec is bottled as Finca Remota, a play on words mingling its remote location with Roberto de la Mota's surname.
It may have been making wine since the mid-16th century (and is the fifth-largest wine-producing country), but it is only in the past decade or so that Argentina has shown wine drinkers around the world what it is capable of. Historically, Argentina has had a healthy domestic market, so exports were never the country's top priority. But as consumption at home slowed, more and more wineries have strived to make an impression overseas.Argentina has now established a reputation for top-quality reds, and has attracted its fair share of foreign investment, from the likes of Château Lafite, LVMH (owner of Krug Champagne and Château d'Yquem in Sauternes, among others), and top wine consultant Michel Rolland.The heart of the Argentine wine industry is Mendoza, in the far west of the country, where more than 80% of Argentina's wine is made. Altitude is a great marker of quality, and above 900m the climate is cool enough to produce fine wines. Within Mendoza, sub-regions to look out for include Luján de Cuyo in the Upper Mendoza Valley, and the Uco Valley, to the south-west of the city of Mendoza. One of the strengths of the region is the quantity of old vineyards, planted to a relatively high density. The climate here is semi-desert and vines could not survive on the low levels of rainfall alone. The Huarpe Indians, who were in the area before the arrival of the Spanish, long ago built a sophisticated system of irrigation channels, many of which form the basis for the modern structures. What rain there is has the unhappy habit of falling in February and March and the harvest takes place in late March, so many vineyards are planted on free draining soils to mitigate against the effects. Flood irrigation is used where the land is flat enough and drip irrigation is increasingly used to give large but infrequent doses of water to the vines. Hail is a significant risk too, with 30% of vines damaged every year. There is less regional diversity in Argentina than you might imagine, because the climatic differences are often negated by the effects of altitude. For example, the region of Salta, in the north of the country, has some of the highest vineyards in the world, at around 2,000m, but the region's northerly location means its climate is similar to Mendoza. The altitude here, and in Mendoza, provides the vines with plenty of ultraviolet light which encourages the development of anthocyanins and therefore colour in the red grapes, hence the rich, deep colour of many Argentine malbecs. When these anthocyanins combine with tannins during fermentation the result is the velvety, opulent texture one associates with the best malbecs. It is one of the chief reasons for the difference between the Argentine malbecs and the firmer, drier versions from the grape’s natural home at Cahors in south-west France. Salta province, more than 1,000 kilometres north of Mendoza, also makes very fine malbec and other reds at altitudes over 1,500 metres, but is also the heartland of torrontés production in Argentina. This cross between país and muscat is a source of wonderfully aromatic and fresh white wines. Many vines here are pergola trained, allowing the grapes to hang down beneath the canopy, shaded from the sun to prevent burning.Soils throughout Argentina’s wine regions vary: alluvial soils such as gravel, silts sand and clay are common around Mendoza and in the Rio Negro area in Patagonia, Argentina’s other major wine-producing area.Rio Negro is also a semi-desert area, far from the cooling effects of altitude in the Andes and the sea, which is 500 kilometres to the east. The Rio Negro, meaning ‘black river’, runs east on a glacial bed that lies beneath the arid plateau. The waters of the river irrigate the area via channels initially built by British engineers in 1828. Frost is a major risk here and it is not unusual to see the smudge pots often used in Chablis employed in the vineyards of Rio Negro. Soils are varied but generally alluvial with some limestone cropping up amongst the pebbles A wide range of grape varieties are cultivated in the Rio Negro and, apart from one or two exceptions, the region has yet to earn the reputation for quality that Mendoza and the other mountain vineyards have achieved.
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JancisRobinson.com 26th Apr 2019
"... I don't hesitate
to recommend it as a wine of the week ... At just £12.95 ... it represents
great value as well as being a fine, clear example of the variety.
The 2017 blends subtle, nutty oak overtones from the 15% of fruit that spent
six months in oak, with elegant lemon rind and lemongrass varietal character,
some tropical fruit ripeness and a fine line of acidity. Moreover, I found a
distinctly saline quality on the palate as well as rocky mineral aromatics.
These triggered a memory that the Uco Valley vineyard where the wine originated
comprised quite old vines.
Sure enough, planted on their own roots in 1947, the 2 ha (4.9 acres) of
Semillon in Mendel's Finca Remota (great name), at 1,100 m (3,280 ft)
elevation, celebrated their 70th birthday in 2017. I think, in part, that these
old vines give depth to the palate that points to decent longevity on this
wine, which should drink well up to 2025 and perhaps as far as 2030, changing
character along the way. - Tim Jackson"
The Observer 27th Jan 2019
"The grapes for the
charming Mendel Semillon, Mendoza 2017, with its green figgy, subtly honeyed
and lemony citrus character, are sourced from a 70-year-old plot in Mendoza’s
fashionable Paraje Altamira. - David Williams"
Mr Alex Downham (03-Oct-2018)
"Yes lovely in all respects but the high acidity which I find wearing. Others maybe more tolerant."
Mr Russell Sainty (24-Oct-2017)
The Observer (8th Apr 2018)
Mendel Semillon, with its graceful herbs and blossomy honey ... owe[s its]
depth and balance to vines that are well in excess of 50 years of age. - David Williams"
Suffolk Free Press (30th Nov 2017)
"From a 70-year-old vineyard, showing notes of
green-plum, baked lemon and vanilla. The acidity's balanced nicely. This will
become more opulent with age. - Neil Courtier"
JancisRobinson.com (26th Apr 2017)
grassy grapefruit nose. Very high acidity and a fine tannic texture. Creamy
balance softens the crisp acidity. Great intensity with some lime fruit. 17/20 Julia Harding"
The Press Association (3rd Mar 2016)
"This is a dry
semillon made from vines at least 60 years old and shows great purity of fruit
and minerality. Fresh and round with a silky palate, the pear, lemon and lime
flavours framed by greengage are enhanced by part barrel ageing for added
complexity. There's refreshing acidity and herbal notes on the long finish. - Sam Wylie Harris"
JancisRobinson.com (19th Nov 2015)
"Altamira, old vines.
Chewy. Tight and fine and with great line. 16.5/20 Jancis Robinson"
Decanter (26th Aug 2015)
"A pure understated
elegant semillon from winemaker Roberto de la Mota. Vivid lemon fruit with a
trace of oak from 73-year-old vines. A welcome reworking of Argentina's
traditional white wine. - Sarah Jane Evans MW"
"From a 65-year-old
vineyard in Altamira, this is a Bordeaux-like semillon with its notes of honey
and oily texture. Its refreshing aciditry is surrounded by ripe white fruit
flavours. An excellent revival of the grape. - Patricio Tapa"
"Very rich, citrussy and long. Will age well and become more rounded."
Mr Jeff Garner (29-Mar-2015)
"I am really impressed by this wine. It is quite dry, fresh with a hint of citrus and lingers on the palate; an excellent accompaniment to fish. It comes wrapped in tissue paper which helps to make it look a bit special. Excellent value for money and a nice alternative to the more common Chardonnays and Sauvignons."
Col Peter R C Flach MBE (15-Oct-2014)
"We were lucky enough to visit Mendel's vineyard a couple of years ago and have showed their Semillon at our wine club. Last week we opened our last bottle of the 2008 vintage: think honeyed, slightly waxy, richness lying underneath ripe citrus fruit. The wine was still fresh and could easily have kept for a further year. An excellent value wine at this price; buy some to drink now, and keep a couple of bottles for a few years. You will be rewarded. Off now to order more…..."
Mr Nick Mitchell (09-Jun-2014)
"I'm not sure what led me to choose this wine but I'm glad I did. It's good value at the price, full of citrus - not sure about the heather, I don't know what that tastes like - and what I once heard a Sancerre described as, wet stones and grass (maybe that's where the heather comes from). Anyway, I will be back for more."
Mr Simon Thorne (01-May-2014)
Daily Mail (8th Mar 2014)
"Drop everything and
order this wine. It is incredibly focussed and classy with a core of lime
juice and wild heather and I absolutely adore it. Coming from 70 year-old
vines this is a main course white with unrivalled distinction at this price
point. There are no white Graves (Bordeaux) to come close at this price. - Matthew Jukes"
Belfast News Letter Group (15th Feb 2014)
"Plump, chewy and
delightfully dry. This vibrantly herbaceous, aromatic and zesty Argentinian
drop has a rich palate full of greengage, citrus and more tropical fruit flavours
before a deeply satisfying and discretely acidic finish. - Raymond Gleug"
Decanter (5th Sep 2013)
from Argentina is something of a rarity, although the vineyard that produced
this wine is 70 years old. The fresh nose gives you vibrant, apple and lime
fruit, with an attractive, oily side as well. The palate is beautifully
structured and elegant with fine balance, complexity via its melon and apple
skin flavours, and a tangy finish.
- 50 best South American wines Under £20
"Good body, firm and
fresh. Notes of white fruits, but everything is in austere harmony. A long and
delicate finish.- Fabio Portelli"
Woman & Home (Sep 2013)
"Rare it may be, but Argentinian semillon can be wonderful when it's as good as this barrel-aged example from vines in Altamira. Savoury and complex, with lots of texture.- Tim Atkin"
"Just drank a glass or two of the 2010 vintage. Very good Semillon, in the New World style with plenty of up front limey fruit, but showing some Old World restraint also, which means that if the 2011 vintage is superior this may be a very fine wine indeed."
Mr Mark Jones (07-Dec-2012)
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