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Altos Las Hormigas Appellation Gualtallary Valle de Uco Malbec 2014 (1x75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2018 edition's "Steven Spurrier's Fine Wine World" (see blue link below)...

Altos Las Hormigas Appellation Gualtallary Valle De Uco Malbec 2014 - August 2018 Decanter review

Altos Las Hormigas is based in Luján de Cuyo, the only officially recognised appellation in Mendoza and one of the region's premium vine growing areas. The estate is known as a Malbec specialist with a reputation as one of the country's top five producers of this particular variety. Alberto Antonini and fellow Tuscan, Antonio Morescalchi, were so impressed with the vineyards in the area around Mendoza, following their first trip to Argentina in 1995, that they persuaded a few friends to join with them in buying this estate. The estate covers 88 hectares with 56 in production.

100% of this Malbec was grown on the loamy soils of Gualtallary, lying at 1,300 metres above sea level. There, limestone-covered pebbles and gravels occupy 50-60% of the soil volume, with a high percentage of free calcium carbonate giving the wine a chalky, fresh minerality. A small percentage of clay (3%) allows the Malbec to express fresh fruit flavours.

The season began with severe frosts reducing yields by 30%. November brought a few dry Zonda winds that negatively affected flowering and lowered yields even more. December and January saw heatwaves, though lower temperatures moved into the region just before harvest. Three weeks before harvest, two years’ worth of rain fell. Grapes were therefore harvested prior to mildew or rot setting in. Despite these challenges, fruit showed good levels of acidity, lower alcohol content and fine tannins.

The grapes went through a double selection process and into small stainless steel tanks for pre-fermentation maceration at 5°C for seven days. The alcoholic fermentation began with indigenous yeasts at 24°C and continued for 15 days. In total, the wine spent three weeks on its skins. Pumping over was not carried out in order to minimise over-extraction of grape skin compounds. Instead, the cap was rotated by manual pigeage throughout the fermentation. Once this was completed, post-fermentation maceration began for four days. The wine was matured in 3,500 litre untoasted foudres for 18 months followed by 12 months in bottle.

Fresh red fruit notes, cranberries and wild strawberries are followed by layers of spice and herbs. On the palate, fruit is intensely concentrated intensifying through the mid-palate to the finish. The limestone tannins and calcareous soils build a firm but balanced structure in the mouth, with elegant minerality and a long finish.

This wine is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

£32.45

Altos Las Hormigas Appellation Paraje Altamira Malbec 2014 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition panel tasting of South American signature grapes (see blue link below). 

Altos Las Hormigas Appellation (Paraje Altamira) Malbec 2014 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2017 edition review of Argentine reds (Altamira and Gualtallary) (see blue link below)...

Altos las Hormigas Appellation Malbec 2014 - October 2017 Decanter review

... and awarded 95 points and Outstanding status in their October 2017 edition review of South American Extreme Viticulture (see blue link below)...

Altos las Hormigas Appellation Malbec 2014 - October 2017 Decanter review

... and awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status in their October 2016 edition review of Argentina (see blue link below).

Altos Las Hormigas Appellation Altamira Malbec 2014 - October 2016 Decanter review 

Altos Las Hormigas is based in Luján de Cuyo, the only officially recognised appellation in Mendoza and one of the region's premier vine growing areas. The estate is known as a Malbec specialist with a reputation as one of the country's top five producers of this particular variety. 

The wine was matured in 3,500 litre untoasted oak foudres for 18 months, and a further 12 months in bottle. There was a coarse filtration prior to bottling, to ensure that the quality of the wine was not interfered with.

Fresh and delicate on the nose showing layers of red cherries and raspberries combined with herbal notes of wild rocket and thyme and a touch of minerality. On the palate it is elegant and supple with fine tannins providing structure. A graceful, complex, deep and structured wine with considerable length.

£32.45

Altos Las Hormigas Malbec Clasico 2017 (1x75cl)

Altos Las Hormigas is based in Luján de Cuyo, the only officially recognised appellation in Mendoza and one of the region's premium vine growing areas. The estate is known as a Malbec specialist with a reputation as one of the country's top five producers of this particular variety. Alberto Antonini and fellow Tuscan, Antonio Morescalchi, were so impressed with the vineyards in the area around Mendoza, following their first trip to Argentina in 1995, that they persuaded a few friends to join with them in buying this estate. The estate covers 88 hectares with 56 in production.

Most of the fruit for the Clasico comes from Altos Las Hormigas' estate in Lujan de Cuyo. Soils there are silt-based. The wines are also supplemented with fruit from Agrelo, which has more clay. The climate here is semi-desert with hot days and cool nights which help the aromatic development of the grapes.

Grapes from different vineyards were vinified separately before the final blend was assembled. After a careful double sorting process, the grapes were gently pressed and fermented with indigenous yeasts in order to express each of the selected vineyards. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks between 24-28°C for 10 days. Each tank is tasted three times a day to determine what is needed. The wine is then aged for 12 months in concrete vats.

This Malbec is deep violet-red in colour. The nose displays characteristic notes of red fruits, raspberries and freshly picked plums with white pepper. This wine is all about freshness - the palate is supple and juicy, with soft but structured tannins and a long finish.

£12.55

Altos Las Hormigas Terroir Lujan de Cuyo Malbec 2016 (1x75cl)

Altos Las Hormigas is based in Luján de Cuyo, the only officially recognised appellation within Mendoza and one of the region's premium vine growing areas. The estate is known as a Malbec specialist with a reputation as one of the country's top five producers of this particular variety. Alberto Antonini and fellow Tuscan, Antonio Morescalchi, were so impressed with the vineyards in the area around Mendoza, following their first trip to Argentina in 1995, that they persuaded a few friends to join with them in buying this estate. The estate covers 88 hectares with 56 in production.

Fruit is sourced from the oldest part of the Uco Valley – vineyards in the sub-region of La Consulta and two areas in Tupungato. The soils are gravelly and alluvial. Vines are planted at high density to balance growth in low vigour, nutrient-poor soils.

2016 began with an unusually cool and rainy spring with temperatures well below average Mendoza standards. This caused some difficulties during flowering and fruit set and led to lower than normal yields. Nevertheless, this reduction in quantity meant that the grapes which did successfully ripen were very high in quality and incredibly concentrated in flavour.

Grapes were harvested by hand and carefully sorted. The grapes were then released by gravity into small concrete tanks where fermentation took place using native yeasts, at controlled temperatures of 24-28°C for 12 days. The wine spent 12 months in the concrete tanks, and a further 12 months ageing in bottle.

This wine is bright violet in colour, with ruby red hues. On the nose, there are aromas of plums with soft mineral notes and a hint of mint and herbs. On the palate, it is well balanced with firm tannins and a long, vibrant finish.

£17.15

Altos Las Hormigas Valle De Uco Malbec Reserva 2015 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2016 edition review of Argentina (see blue link below).

Altos Las Hormigas Reserva Malbec 2014 - October 2016 Decanter review

Altos Las Hormigas is based in Luján de Cuyo, the only officially recognised appellation within Mendoza and one of the region's premium vine growing areas. The estate is known as a Malbec specialist with a reputation as one of the country's top five producers of this particular variety. Alberto Antonini and fellow Tuscan, Antonio Morescalchi, were so impressed with the vineyards in the area around Mendoza, following their first trip to Argentina in 1995, that they persuaded a few friends to join with them in buying this estate. The estate covers 88 hectares with 56 in production.

The Malbec is hand-picked from 100% calcareous soil of the Uco Valley, limestone over alluvial deposits of the Tunuyan River in Altamira, the alluvial terrace of Arroyo Grande in Vista Flores, and the alluvial with calcareous highlands of Gualtallary.

The 2014-2015 harvest presented mean temperatures well below historic averages. Only in March did temperatures approach mean or close-to-mean values. Red varieties were marked by slow ripening until late March, especially with regards to berry sugar content. Then, halfway through April, ripening suddenly accelerated. This prolonged ripening period yielded very expressive wines.

Grapes were harvested by hand and carefully sorted. The wine spent three weeks on its skins. During fermentation, gentle pigeage was undertaken in order to avoid over extraction. The juice was fermented using indigenous yeasts. The wine was matured in 3,500 litre untoasted Foudres for 22 months, and 12 months in bottle.

This wine is deep ruby red in colour, with violet hues. On the nose, it is complex, expressive and aromatic with notes of plum, raspberries, chocolate and a touch of leather. This wine offers a strong, well-structured palate and a long, elegant finish.

£23.65

Altos Las Hormigas Valle De Uco Malbec Terroir 2016 (1x75cl)

Altos Las Hormigas is based in Luján de Cuyo, the only officially recognised appellation within Mendoza and one of the region's premium vine growing areas. The estate is known as a Malbec specialist with a reputation as one of the country's top five producers of this particular variety. Alberto Antonini and fellow Tuscan, Antonio Morescalchi, were so impressed with the vineyards in the area around Mendoza, following their first trip to Argentina in 1995, that they persuaded a few friends to join with them in buying this estate. The estate covers 88 hectares with 56 in production.

Fruit is sourced from the oldest part of the Uco Valley – vineyards in the sub-region of La Consulta and two areas in Tupungato. The soils are gravelly and alluvial. Vines are planted at high density to balance growth in low vigour, nutrient-poor soils and the grapes are hand harvested.

2016 began with an unusually cool and rainy spring with temperatures well below average Mendoza standards. This caused some difficulties during flowering and fruit set and led to lower than normal yields. Nevertheless, this reduction in quantity meant that the grapes which did successfully ripen were very high in quality and incredibly concentrated in flavour.

Grapes from different vineyards were vinified separately before being blended together. The grapes went through a vigorous selection process on a double selection table before being gently pressed. Indigenous yeasts began the fermentation which lasted 12 days and took place in stainless steel tanks at 24-28ºC. The wine was aged for 18 months before being bottled, 25% in large oak foudres and 75% in concrete. The wine was then aged for a further six months in bottle before release.

This wine has an intense ruby red colour. On the nose, it has a beautiful bouquet of sweet cherries, cranberries, fresh figs and hints of violet. Crisp and round on the palate, there is a perfect harmony of bright red fruit and floral nuances and a great balance of acidity and tannin. The finish is fresh and long.

£16.05

Amalaya Corte Único 'Finca San Isidro' 2013 (1x 75cl)

The Amalaya wines  offer incredible value for their quality and truly reflect their ‘sense of place‘. All of the Amalaya wines are fruit driven in style, with a finesse that unites them. 

This is Amalaya's flagship wine. The fruit (90% Malbec, 5% Tannat, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon) for this single vineyard speciality comesf rom the San Isidro vineyard located in the Cafayate Valley in the very heart of the Calchaqui Valley. At 1800 metres above sea level, it is distinguished for being the highest wine region in the world. The climate here is very dry, with just 150mm of rain in an average year and a huge temperature difference of around 20°C. The soils are rocky, poor and sandy so the roots of the vines are forced to dig deep to find the vital nutrients and water they need, which in turn results in a huge concentration of flavour within the fruit. After careful sorting by hand at the winery, the grapes were barrel fermented in new French oak for 60 days. Malolactic fermentation took place and once complete, the wine was then aged in French oak for a period of 12 months.

The wine itself is deep and intense in colour. Black fruit and spices on the nose, with floral undertones. Well-balanced, the palate is complex and full-bodied with fine grained tannins.

 The Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon lend ageing potential to this wine, and it should improve for at least 8-10 years.

£20.00

Andeluna Altitud Malbec 2015 (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2018 edition panel tasting of Value Malbec (see blue link below). 

Andeluna Altitud Malbec 2015 - Oct 2018 Decanter review

Founded in 2003, Andeluna is a small boutique winery specialising in premium Bordeaux varietals of world class recognition. The vineyard covers 70 hectares in the beautiful Uco Valley near Tupungato, one of the best subregions of Mendoza. By night you can often see the moon illuminating the magnificent Andes Mountains nearby and the winery has been named after this stunning scene. Situated at an altitude of 1,300 metres, the vineyard produces some of the best fruit in Argentina. Winemaker, Manuel Gonzalez (previously Head Winemaker at Pulenta Estate and Chief Oenologist at Trivento) works alongside Andeluna's wine consultant Hans Vinding Diers to make outstanding wines which have propelled this producer into the global spotlight in a very short space of time.

The grapes come from the vineyard located in Tupungato, which is situated at an altitude of 1,300 metres above sea level. The area is characterised by its great diurnal temperature swings, which encourages aromatic expression and a great intensity of colour in the wine. The vines are irrigated by a drip-water system that regulates and supplies the exact amount of water that the plant needs. Grown in soils which are predominantly alluvial and sandy, the vines undergo strict canopy management in order to reduce yields.

The clusters were hand selected prior to vinification and underwent a prefermentation maceration at low temperatures. Fermentation took place with natural yeasts in stainless steel tanks at temperatures maintained at approximately 26°C. The wine was aged in French oak barrels for eight to 12 months, followed by six months in bottle, prior to release.

A full flavoured Malbec with intense aromas red fruits and violets combined with delicate hints of vanilla, coffee and chocolate. Sweet fruit on the palate is backed by soft, but high volume tannins which give the wine a long and exquisite finish. Serve with a juicy pan-fried steak, braised lamb shanks or a rich lentil stew.

£15.65

Argento Esquinas de Argento Malbec 2017 (1x75cl)

Established in 1998 in Argentina’s most famous wine region, Mendoza, Argento has been the leading Argentinean wine brand in Europe for the last ten years. Mendoza’s high altitude vineyards, desert-like climate and natural irrigation from Andean snow melt create the perfect conditions to produce world-class fruit. The winemaking team at Argento first set out to unlock the extraordinary potential of Malbec and reveal its vibrant, velvety character and intense fruit flavours. Expanding on their success with Malbec, Argento now applies the same philosophy to producing Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Bonarda and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Esquinas represents the vibrant, urban Buenos Aires, where life happens on the streets. Each one of the Esquinas de Argento labels pays tribute to the emblematic corners (esquinas) of the city, where the colours, the movements, the sounds and the people give the town its captivating energy. “Esquinas: where life happens”.

The fermentation occurs in stainless steel tanks at 22-28°C for 7 days. The wine is then micro-oxygenated prior to malolactic fermentation. The wine is then aged for 6 months in 60% French and 540% American oak.

Dark purple with bluish glints, this superb Malbec offers vibrant aromas of cherries, ripe plums, blackberries and truffles. Unctuous in the mouth with notes of plum and sweet cherry, with a touch of chocolate and cinnamon from oak aging, leading into a long lingering finish with velvety tannins.

£11.00

Argento Seleccion Malbec 2017 (1x75cl)

Established in 1998 in Argentina’s most famous wine region, Mendoza, Argento has been the leading Argentinean wine brand in Europe for the last ten years. Mendoza’s high altitude vineyards, desert-like climate and natural irrigation from Andean snow melt create the perfect conditions to produce world-class fruit. 

At Bodega Argento they are very proud of Argentina’s wine heritage and the unique terroir of Mendoza. They are dedicated to making wines that express a true varietal character. Fruit purity, freshness, vibrancy and elegance are the distinct hallmarks of the Argento style.

This wine undergoes a stainless steel fermentation at 77-80°F for 7 days. Once this part of the winemaking process is complete, the wine is aged in oak for 6 months (60% French and 40% American oak).

This superb Malbec has a deep violet colour and offers concentrated aromas of black cherries and chocolate notes. The rich blackberry and black currant fruit flavours are rounded off perfectly by soft, supple tannins.

£9.35

Bianchi `Famiglia Bianchi` Organic Malbec 2014 (1x75cl)

The Bianchi family winery was founded in 1928 by Italian immigrant Valentin Bianchi. It now covers 350 hectares of vineyard, situated 750 metres above sea level in San Rafael, about 240km south of Mendoza city. This is a cooler area than Mendoza's major vineyard areas of Luján de Cuyo and Agrelo because it is further south, which helps the flavours and perfumes develop more gradually, resulting in more aromatic wines. The estate is now run by the third generation of the family and has undergone a gradual transformation in the past few years, modernising both the winery and the vinification processes. Finca Los Primos comprises a range of excellent value varietals. Famiglia Bianchi, Particular and Enzo are each a step up in concentration and depth of fruit, from older and lower yielding vineyards.

The grapes for this wine come primarily from the Doña Elsa Estate, situated in Rama Caída, San Rafael, Mendoza, around 760m above sea level. It is an ideal climate for the Malbec grape because of the warm days and cool nights that are typical of the area. The soil is sand and limestone.

Spring 2014 began with uneven budding in some areas, resulting in fewer grapes than the previous year. A late frost in November was followed by a fairly warm and dry December and January, giving excellent health to the vineyards. However, February was very rainy, with an average of 140 mm that month, more than half of the average yearly rainfall. Though March was much drier, there were some intense rains. The mean temperatures dropped significantly in February and especially in March.

The grapes were hand picked, then fermented at temperatures not exceeding 30ºC, with gentle and frequent pumping over for a period of 21 days to ensure good extraction of colour and ripe tannins. The wine was then aged for 12 months in French oak (75%) and American oak (25%) barriques of which 33% were new, 33% were one year old and 33% were two years old, before bottling.

Intense ruby with a glint of violet. Raspberry aromas mix with prunes, spices, tobacco and subtle mocha notes. Full-bodied and smooth on the palate with rounded tannins. Coffee and bitter chocolate from the oak ageing add complexity to the mature red fruit character on the long, well-balanced finish.

£15.25

Bianchi 'Famiglia Bianci' Malbec 2016 (1x75cl)

The Bianchi family winery was founded in 1928 by Italian immigrant Valentin Bianchi. It now covers 350 hectares of vineyard, situated 750 metres above sea level in San Rafael, about 240km south of Mendoza city. This is a cooler area than Mendoza's major vineyard areas of Luján de Cuyo and Agrelo because it is further south, which helps the flavours and perfumes develop more gradually, resulting in more aromatic wines. The estate is now run by the third generation of the family and has undergone a gradual transformation in the past few years, modernising both the winery and the vinification processes. Finca Los Primos comprises a range of excellent value varietals. Famiglia Bianchi, Particular and Enzo are each a step up in concentration and depth of fruit, from older and lower yielding vineyards.

The grapes for this wine come primarily from the Doña Elsa Estate, situated in Rama Caída, San Rafael, Mendoza, around 760m above sea level. It is an ideal climate for the Malbec grape because of the warm days and cool nights that are typical of the area. The soil is sand and limestone.

The grapes were hand picked, then fermented for seven days at temperatures not exceeding 30ºC, with gentle and frequent pumping over to ensure extraction of good colour and ripe tannins. Extended maceration for three weeks took place on a small percentage of the Malbec. It was aged for ten months in new French (80%) and American (20%) oak barriques before bottling. The wine was aged a further ten months in bottle before release.

The luscious, intense fruit aromas have hints of ripe plums, cherries and blackberries. These aromas continue on the palate with a generous mouthfeel and great weight, while remaining soft and silky.

£14.25

Bodega Norton Reserva Malbec 2014 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2017 edition review of Big Brand South American wines (below £13!) (see blue link below).

Norton Reserva Malbec 2014 - October 2017 Decanter review

In 1885, the Buenos Aires to Mendoza railway opened, cementing the significance of this emerging wine-growing region high in the Andean foothills. Ten years later, Edmund Norton planted the first vines in Mendoza’s Luján de Cuyo district. At 900-1100 metres, the altitude moderates the temperature, causing an extended ripening season, and also expose the vines to more ultraviolet light, which encourages the development of colour and tannin in the black-skinned varieties. The result is whites packed with vibrant flavour and good natural acidity, and well-structured, food-friendly reds.

Half the blend comes from vineyards situated at 1100 metres above sea level in the Luján de Cuyo region of western Mendoza, and half comes from the Uco Valley to the south. The age of the vines is between thirty and fifty years. The grapes are hand-picked into small baskets, with hand selection of the berries. Following a five-day cold maceration, the wine underwent a fermentation with native yeasts for seven days at a temperature of 25°C. Maceration lasted for 25-30 days at 20°C, and the malolactic fermentation was 100% natural. The wine was aged for twelve months in first- and second-use French oak barrels, and then for ten months in bottle prior to release.

Round and velvety, with flavours of ripe black fruit, violets, spices and tobacco. Long and complex on the finish.

£13.90

Bodega Norton Reserva Malbec 2015 (1x75cl)

The 2014 vintage was Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2017 edition review of Big Brand South American wines (below £13!) (see blue link below).

Norton Reserva Malbec 2014 - October 2017 Decanter review

NB: This wine also trades under the name of the Winemaker's Reserve Malbec, as can be seen from the Bodega Norton website (compare the two products and note their identical tech sheet!).

In 1885, the Buenos Aires to Mendoza railway opened, cementing the significance of this emerging wine-growing region high in the Andean foothills. Ten years later, Edmund Norton planted the first vines in Mendoza’s Luján de Cuyo district. At 900-1100 metres, the altitude moderates the temperature, causing an extended ripening season, and also expose the vines to more ultraviolet light, which encourages the development of colour and tannin in the black-skinned varieties. The result is whites packed with vibrant flavour and good natural acidity, and well-structured, food-friendly reds.

Half the blend comes from vineyards situated at 1100 metres above sea level in the Luján de Cuyo region of western Mendoza, and half comes from the Uco Valley to the south. The age of the vines is between thirty and fifty years. The grapes are hand-picked into small baskets, with hand selection of the berries. Following a five-day cold maceration, the wine underwent a fermentation with native yeasts for seven days at a temperature of 25°C. Maceration lasted for 25-30 days at 20°C, and the malolactic fermentation was 100% natural. The wine was aged for twelve months in first- and second-use French oak barrels, and then for ten months in bottle prior to release.

Round and velvety, with flavours of ripe black fruit, violets, spices and tobacco. Long and complex on the finish.

£13.90

Catena Alta Malbec 2015 (1x 75cl)

See/click the link below for more data from the winemakers themselves.

Catena Alta Malbec 2015 - fiche technique

This a dark purple coloured wine, with an intense nose of ripe berry fruits with layers of cinnamon and spice. This elegant, full-bodied Malbec has rich cassis and blackcurrant fruit flavours interwoven with hints of chocolate, vanilla and black pepper.

£29.05
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