Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Altocedro

Altocedro (old cedars) is a wonderful Argentine property located in La Consulta in the Uco Valley in southern Mendoza.  We're writing about it here because we happen to have a stack of three of their fine reds in the store right now (hint, hint).  This boutique winery uses hand harvested, terroir-driven, sustainably farmed fruit in an ultra-modern gravity flow facility that then turns to concrete fermentation tanks before oak aging.  Classy.

At 33 degrees latitude La Consulta is the wine growing district where Altocedro is located.  The Uco Valley begins about an hour's drive south of the city of Mendoza and extends for about forty-five miles southward.  It is about fifteen miles wide.  What sets La Consulta apart from the larger valley and the even larger Mendoza appellation is its altitude of 3,772 feet above sea level.  At that elevation the air and water are pristine and the long growing season there offers fully two hundred fifty days of sunshine.  The climate is hot and dry and the wines are all organic by default since at that elevation there are no pests!

The Tunuyan River is the essential element that makes this region a destination for wine industry professionals and connoisseurs alike.  Mendoza, for all practical purposes, is a desert with a stony, sandy surface over alluvial soils of clay and rock.  Drainage is optimal in such soils that are obviously the result of erosion from the Andes.  Similarly the river is melt from the mountains.

Wine making here began as early as the 1500s when Spanish settlers brought vine cuttings from Chile.  Three hundred years later Malbec and other vinifera vines were brought from France. Then in the 1980's Nicholas Catena from that great wine making family furthered the science by blending wines from plantings at different altitudes (to 5,000 ft!) to delineate the existing microclimates.

Now here are today's vocabulary words: diurnal effect or thermal amplitude, which mean pretty much the same thing as far as I can tell.  Both terms refer to the desired dramatic temperature swing from afternoon highs to pre-dawn lows that wine makers love. Why is that so important?  Because in order for grapes to achieve the desired balance of high sugars and acids (phenolic ripeness) a pronounced swing is necessary.  For Mendocino grapes that means deep color, intense floral aromas, and rich flavors.

And that's why the great reds of Altocedro should be your next purchase!


Please join us in a tasting of Altocedro reds and others this Thursday the 17th starting at 5pm.  The following Thursday, by the way, features Quinton Lucia of WX Brands with a presentation of the wines of Jamieson Ranch of Napa Valley.                         


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Punch

One of my favorite wine experiences is that of getting whacked by the acidic punch of a light dry white wine and if that experience happens on a hot summer afternoon, well, all the better!  You know what I'm talking about.  You've bitten into a lemon, lime or grapefruit and have felt your face recoil in that delectable horror of losing, at the very least, your composure and at the most, what you know to be your self hood!  Suddenly you are no longer the actor on the stage but rather the one being acted upon...by a piece of fruit yet!

While the wines I'm talking about could be from the interior of any wine producing continent, if you really want to get whacked, go to the coasts where wines tend to whack seafood quite well.  "Green, crisp, lively, tangy, and clean" are all the right adjectives for the experience we're talking about here.  Sometimes, I swear, you can even taste the salinity in the air in the wines of those places.  Heck, go to Italy where the whole country is coastline and they're always coming up with new (to us) old wine grapes like Pecarino.  Go to the French Mediterranean and have a glass of Picpoul.  Or to South Africa for some Steen.

Or you could go to Rias Baixas, Spain for Albarino like we did here last week with our tour guide, Brian Espanol.  That excursion went quite well, especially after a stop at the cheese table for some Idiazabol and Manchego!  Aye Charamba!

Join us here this Thursday after 5 as David Rimmer takes us to the coast of Brittany for a taste of Muscadet which punches as well as any of them.  Not Muscadine or Muscatel or Muscato despite the name similarities, this one is a lean, mean punching machine!  Wanna go a round or two?  Be here Thursday between 5 and 7pm.  And bring your boxing gloves!