At almost 5,000 feet elevation in the Andean foothills, the Adrianna vineyard's calcareous soils and cool climate are the promised land of Chardonnay. The fruit from the Adrianna vineyard has a purity of flavors and a minerality that is particular to this vineyard and can not be found anywhere else in Mendoza. The nearby, gravel-covered Domingo Vineyard makes up 20% of the blend.
The soul of the viñatero (vigneron) is tested every year in our high mountain desert vineyard region of Mendoza, and the 2010-11 season was no different. After a small but very good quality harvest in 2010 (there was low set related to cold spring temperatures and Zonda winds) we were all hoping for a plentiful and uneventful 2011. As you may know, the viñatero quickly forgets the ravages of hail, frost and El Niño rains, every year hoping for a plentiful and healthy crop. The 2010 winter was quite dry and cold – not a good skiing season at Las Leñas! – but we somehow managed to get by through a combination of mountain stream water and underground aquifer wells. And our hearts rested easy, knowing that the probability of hail was lower in this dry climate – in fact, this was one of the lowest hail years that we have ever seen.
However, on the dreadful day of November 9th, a fierce frost hit Mendoza, cold air travelling fast along the low valleys of Lujan de Cuyo and the Uco Valley. The lack of humidity made things even worse: frost-cans were lit all night and prayers recited by all. We could not believe our luck the next day to see that our La Piramide vineyard in Agrelo (Agrelo and nearby Ugarteche were the worse affected) had been mostly spared. Our Angelica Sur Vineyard, a newer vineyard in El Cepillo, in the Southernmost part of the Uco Valley, was not as lucky – out of 150 Hectares we only harvested 30.
In February, the water situation became critical because the vines were in full photosynthesis mode and harvest was approaching. Towards the end of February, the rains arrived with noisy thunderstorms. The mountains became so white from the snow that it looked like winter. The initial elation at the arrival of water turned into fear towards beginning of March. The harvest of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir was coming about 2 weeks later than usual so we had almost no juice in the winery. But just when we started seeing some pockets of botrytis in the whites, the weather calmed down, the rain virtually stopped and we saw 2 more months of cooler-than-usual temperatures with a perfect mix of scattered clouds and sunny skies. The later ripening reds, such as Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon were harvested 2-3 weeks later than usual in perfect condition with good concentration and perhaps due to the cooler climate, heightened aromas. Natural acidity was optimal, even in some of the lower altitude areas.
2011 will be a year of perfectly balanced wines with a rich expression of individual vineyard terroir and site.
ADRIANNA VINEYARD: Malbec, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir - Gualtallary, Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza, 4757 ft elevation
Despite the higher yields in other regions, the scarcity of water in this location led to naturally low yields this year. During the growing season, temperatures were below average. In fact there was a snowfall on December 10th (this would be like getting snow in Bordeaux in June). Leaf removal was applied in Malbec lots to better expose the berries and minimize herbal flavors. In this way, we were able to obtain grapes with exceptional aromatics, optimal polyphenolic ripeness and medium levels of sugar. Cool temperatures and low relative humidity allowed us to harvest the grapes later this season, maximizing the development of floral and spicy aromas. The Chardonnay was harvested almost one month later than usual, resulting in ripe fruit and honey flavors. The scarce availability of water highlighted the heterogeneous properties of this vineyard, due to its different soil compositions, allowing us to obtain grapes with different spectrums of aromas and polyphenolic profiles. The grapes were harvested separately, only at full ripeness.”
DOMINGO VINEYARD: Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon - Villa Bastías, Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza, 3675 ft elevation
“A hailstorm hit this vineyard in November, killing some of the flowers before they opened up. Hail reduced the yields by 50% in those lots that were not covered with anti-hail nets. Due to the cooler temperatures that characterized this growing season, we were able to harvest Chardonnay two weeks later than usual. This resulted in a slower and more complete maturation process, thereby maintaining excellent levels of acidity and allowing for the development of abundant aromatics. The Cabernet Sauvignon yields were lower than usual, and thanks to scarce rainfall during the growing season, the canopy allowed for more exposed grapes, resulting in lower levels of pyrazines, good levels of sugar and acids, and sweet-tasting tannins”.
Whole clusters are pressed, and then 100% fermented in 500 L French oak barrels with natural yeasts at low temperatures. Wild yeasts.
Total Acidity: 7.3 grams/liter
Aged for 14 months in French oak. 30% does not undergo malolactic fermentation. First, second and third use barrels used.