In 1995 Alberto Antonini, a well-known Tuscan winemaker, and Antonio Morescalchi, a young entrepreneur, took a trip to visit the burgeoning wine areas of South America. It only took one stop to find what they were looking for. They were immediately impressed by the vineyards thriving in the high altitude and dry climate of Mendoza, and were captivated by the whispered traditions and blend of cultures. They returned to Tuscany powerfully impressed not only by the region, but also by the unexplored potential of Malbec, a grape that had a strong local tradition but was largely ignored and misunderstood. While the rest of the wine world saw Mendoza struggling to shed its bulk wine image, the two young Italians saw Mendoza as a place where traditional viticultural values and unblemished land could be reinvigorated with a modern winemaking approach and international experience. Instead of planting Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as many others were doing during the 1990s, the team decided to invest their confidence in Malbec. Today, Malbec is the varietal for which Argentina is best known. Against all odds they cemented their vision to become Terroir Specialists Shortly after, two friends and business partners, also enthused by the idea, joined the venture: Attilio Pagli, a renowned Tuscan winemaker with two 100 point-scoring wines in his personal record and Carlos Vazquez, an Argentine Agronomist, who work for 20 years with the early Catena group, planting new varieties, developing previously unknown vineyard sites and contributing greatly to the qualitative change of Argentine viticulture early on.
The introduction to the Valle de Uco is the Altos Las Hormigas Terroir Valle de Uco Malbec, which has grapes from La Consulta and Tupungato. The grapes were fermented in small stainless steel vats with indigenous yeasts, and 75% of the volume was kept unoaked while the remaining 25% matured in untoasted 3,500-liter oak foudres for 18 months. This is a Malbec that’s a lot more linear and austere, with superb freshness, super fine tannins and a subdued minerality, really serious. The palate is harmonious, balanced and mineral. It’s a bargain Malbec, really nuanced and with incipient complexity despite its youth.