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From a very good Argentine vintage of low yields and high quality comes this fine yet concentrated wine with excellent potential, principally from malbec planted in Perdriel in 1928 with some cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot for added complexity.
Product Code: AR4401
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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.
2018 is a superb, typical year for Argentina: dry and cool at times but nonetheless sunny with moderate yields and small berries producing excellent wines. The summer was warm but it cooled off at harvest time producing ripe yet fresh grapes. It was especially good for Malbec and white wines.
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