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 Capri Ristorante – McLean, VA

Vineyards in Mendoza

Vineyards in Mendoza


  1. Presenters
  2. Participants
  3. The wines
  4. Information on the wines
  5. Member’s wines ratings
  6. Technical Note


Carlos Paldao and Orlando Reos

TYPE :  Open


Mario Aguilar, Juan Luis Colaiacovo, Italo Mirkow,  Orlado Reos, Peter Scherer, Alfonso Sánchez, Jairo Sánchez, Miguel Segovia, Lee Samuelson


This presentation focuses

  1. Catena Alta – Chardonnay, 2013
  2. Pinot Noir –  Luca 2012 – Valle de Uco (Gualtallary)
  3. Bressia Profundo, 2011- Lujan de Cuyo
  4. Poesía, 2005 – Luján de Cuyo


  1. Mozzarella de bufala salad
  2. Gilled corvina fish and asparagus
  3. Lamb with rosemary sauce and
  4. Tenderloin medallions with shitake mushrooms and vegetables
  5. Desert and/or coffee


(All information obtained and condensed from several Internet articles.)

Catena Alta – Chardonnay, 2013  

Catena Alta Chard

The Wine: Winemaker’s Notes The Catena Alta Chardonnay shows an intense green-yellow color with golden highlights. The nose offers ripe white fruit aromas such as pears and peaches that are interwoven with delicate citrus and floral notes, such as Jasmine. The palate shows rich and concentrated ripe pear, apple and apricot flavors with a light note of minerality. The wine finishes long and complex with crisp, mineral acidity.

The Winery: Bodega Catena Zapata is one of Argentina’s high altitude Malbec pioneers. The Catena family began making wine in Mendoza in 1902. Nicolas Catena, third generation family vintner, was one of the first to see the potential of Mendoza’s mountain vineyards for producing high quality Malbec. In 1994, he became the first Argentine to exprot a world-class bottling of Malbec under the Catena label. Nicolas is joined by his daughter, Dr. Laura Catena, in their relentless pursuit of world-class quality from the family’s high altitude vineyards. Laura has done extensive work in introducing Malbec and other varietal plant selections, soil and climate analysis, and sustainable practices throughout Mendoza. Head winemaker, Alejandro Vigil, has been at Catena Zapata since 2002 and works with Laura and Nicolas to make wines that express the family’s vineyards and palate (taken from Wine.com).

As great artists tap their creative spirit to mix and match colors in the production of magnificent works of art, this wide array of distinct lot selections allows the winemaking team at Bodega Catena Zapata to engage in a creative, intricate process of blending in order to craft the final wine.

Starting with the 2001 vintage, our Catena and Catena Alta wines will reflect this new winemaking philosophy. They will be a blend of different microclimates and will carry the Mendoza appellation instead of a specific vineyard designation. The only exception will be the Catena Alta Chardonnay. We believe that at 4757 feet, the Adrianna Vineyard is today the best site for growing Chardonnay in Mendoza.

To some, this change may sound counter-intuitive. Vineyard designated wines are often thought of as being of a higher rank. But in Mendoza, as in Bordeaux, we are convinced that this art of assemblage will bring you a much more delicious wine. Read More Abot Catena Zapata here: http://www.catenawines.com/eng/winery.html

  • Experts Ratings: RP 90 Pts; WS 90 Pts
  • Member Ratings: 87 Pts.
  • Price:  $30

Luca Pinot Noir, 2012 – Valle de Uco (Gualtallary)

lucaThe Wine: Winemaker’s Notes: Beautiful garnet color with aromas of wild strawberries, saddle leather and cola root. A complex Pinot with notes of leather, spice, and cherry/raspberry confiture on the palate. Amazing aroma and finishes with an enjoyable Burgundian bent. Pairs well with foods such as lamb chops, grilled salmon, roasted duck or chicken, and game birds. Pinot lovers may just go ahead and drink it all by itself!

The Wine Advocate “The 2012 G Lot Pinot Noir is produced with fruit from Gualtallary, a high altitude, chalky-rich soil vineyard in the Uco Valley. It has a ripe nose of red fruit, more Cote de Beaune than Cote de Nuits, with aromas of Morello cherries, sour notes, and some subtle spice aromas. The palate is medium-bodied, with very good acidity, definitively Burgundian. This is a very good Pinot Noir.”

The Winery: Laura Catena is a fourth generation winemaker who grew up in a traditional Argentine-Italian winemaking family in Mendoza. Laura splits her time between Mendoza and San Francisco, California, where she is an emergency physician, university professor and occasional tango dancer. Laura had the vision of creating a new breed of Argentine wines: small quantities, artisan quality, and true to their individual terroirs. A pioneer of small-grower relations in Mendoza, Laura’s incredible, limited production wines come from some of Argentina’s best fruit from low-yield, high-elevation, family-owned vineyards.

Lujan de Cuyo (2,950 to 3,300 feet elevation): Mendoza’s most traditional vineyard region; best for old vine Cabernet Sauvignon and a jammy style of Malbec. Comprises the districts of Las Compuertas, Vistalba, Perdriel, Agrelo (Luca Beso de Dante) and Ugarteche among others. Moderate high desert climate. Deeper alluvial soils: clay, sand and limestone predominate.

Uco Valley (3,200 to 5,000 feet elevation): Named after an Indian chief who ruled the region hundreds of years ago. Comprises the districts of Tunuyan (Luca Malbec), Tupungato, Villa Bastia, Gualtallary (Luca Pinot Noir and Luca Chardonnay), Vista Flores, Los Arboles, Altamira (Luca Malbec), La Consulta (Nico by Luca Malbec, Luca Malbec and Luca Syrah Laborde Double Select), San Carlos, Eugenio Bustos and El Cepillo among others.  Cool nights, sunny days, low humidity, great night-day thermal amplitude. Alluvial soils which are very low in organic material. Shallow alluvial soils: sand, limestone and rocks of all sizes predominate.

Read more about Luca Winery here: http://www.lucawines.com/
  • Experts Ratings:  NA
  • Member Ratings: 88 Pts.
  • Price: $33

Bressia Profundo,  2011 – Luján de Cuyo 

BressiaThe Wine: This wine is a blend of  50% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 10% Syrah.  The term “profundo”, deep or profound in English, is the best way to describe this complex wine.  Aged 12 months in French and American oak, Walter Bressia’s Profundo will unfold with each sip and convince you why Bressia is one of Argentina’s most celebrated winemakers. 

Intense red color with purple tones. Delicate strawberry, blackberry aromas intertwined with chocolate, tobacco, dulce de leche and vanilla nuances. Harmonious and elegant in the mouth, and a long finish

The Winery: Bressia Winery is a small project with wine of the highest quality. Bodega Bressia is a 49-acre family winery owned by Walter Bressia, a veteran winemaker of over 30-years and one of the most renowned winemakers in Argentina.  Unique among Argentine  winemakers is his belief that the true art of winemaking is found in achieving harmony through the combination of various varietals; all of his wines are blends of two or more grapes from different parcels or varietals.  Bressia believes “assemblages”, or wines made from different varieties of grapes combined in different proportions, is the key to making a “Grand Vin.” Each of Bressia’s acclaimed blends demonstrates his talent for transforming winemaking into an alchemist’s art where each bottle is the perfect amalgam of its various parts.

In 2003, after decades of working in collaboration with larger wineries, Bressia decided to pursue a dream he had always had in mind: creating his own tiny production, high quality winery.  His winery is completely in family hands where the product enjoys extra attention, which is a great advantage of small production wineries. The wines Bressia is putting his name on are widely considered to be among the best produced in all of Argentina. Bodega Bressia has a total production level of only about 50,000 bottles among 10 different wines.

View the winery profile: http://www.bressiabodega.com/vinos_profundo_i.html

  • Expert Ratings: WS 92Pts.
  • Member Ratings:  90 Pts.
  • Price: $50

Poesía , Luján de Cuyo  2005

PoesiaThe Wine: This wine is a blend of 60% merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The 2005 Poesia was barrel-fermented and aged for 18 months in 100% new French oak. Opaque purple-colored, it has a high-class aromatic array of pain grille, violets, spice box, black cherry, and blueberry. Smooth-textured, ripe, and sweetly-fruited, this elegant wine is beautifully balanced, nicely concealing enough structure to permit 5-7 years of evolution. It should drink well through 2030.” (Robert Parker).

The Winery: This is a small winery (13 hectares) located in Luján de Cuyo at about 3100 feet of altitude. Owned by the Gracin family who settled from Bordeaux and bottled their first crop in 2002.  They are dedicated to produce Bordeaux-type wines.

Read about Poesia Winery here: http://www.bodegapoesia.com/english/index.htm

  • Expert Ratings: WS 91 Pts.; ST 92Pts.
  • Member Ratings: 91 Pts.
  • Price: $75


Rating Scale:

  • 96-100 Pts. – Exceptional
  • 90-95 Pts.  –  Outstanding
  • 86-89 Pts.  –  Very good
  • 81-85 Pts.  –  Good
  • 76-80 Pts.  –  Acceptable
  • 75 or fewer – Mediocre

Participants ranking, average scores and wine prices :

  1. Poesía, 2005 – Luján de Cuyo  91 Pts. – $ 75
  2. Bressia Profundo, 2011- Lujan de Cuyo 90 Pts. – $50
  3. Pinot Noir –  Luca 2012 – Valle de Uco (Gualtallary)   88 Pts. $33
  4. Catena Alta – Chardonnay, 2013  87 Pts. – $30

(Commentary TBA)

See full detailed evaluation here: Tasting _52-Wines from Argentina – Evaluation



Argentinian Wine

(Compiled by Jairo Sanchez)

From Wine Searcher, The Oxford Companion of Wine and Wine Folly


          Argentina is one of the most important wine-producing countries in the New World, and the largest producer of wine in South America. The high-altitude deserts of the eastern Andes have given rise to a high-quality wine industry and the terroir here is well suited to Argentina’s adopted grape variety, the ubiquitous Malbec. Originally from Bordeaux, this is now responsible for some of Argentina’s most famous wines. Most viticulture in Argentina takes place in the foothills of the Andes, and most famously in Mendoza, where desert landscapes and high altitudes combine to make a terroir that gives rise to aromatic, intensely flavored red wines. Vineyards in Mendoza reach as high as 1500 meters above sea level, increasing levels of solar radiation and a high diurnal temperature variation, making for a long, slow ripening period.

          Nearly three-quarters of Argentinian wine production takes place in Mendoza, and in addition to Malbec, there are significant plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Bonarda. Mendoza’s position in the rain shadow of the Andes means that there is little rainfall, and irrigation is supplied by Andean melt water.

          Argentina has a long viticultural tradition, and wines have been made here since the 1500s, initially by Spanish missionaries and later Italian settlers. Until very recently, Argentinian wines were exclusively domestic, based mostly on the high-yielding Criolla Grande and Cereza grape varieties. Over the past 20 years, however, the country’s wine producers have raised quality levels and successfully consolidated an international export market. Argentina has risen to become the fifth-most-prominent wine-producing country in the world, following France, Italy, Spain and the USA.


          In terms of labeling, a varietal wine must contain at least 85% of the varietal cited, while a varietal mentioned must constitute at least 20% of the blend. Reserva wines have to be aged from six months (whites) to 12 months (reds) and Gran Reserva wines have to be kept twice as long.

          As agreed with European markets, wines are classified as IP (Indicación de Procedencia) for table or regional wines; IG (ndicación Geográfica) for V. Vinifera wines from a specific region with certain minimum quality standards and; DOC (Denominación de Origen Controlado) for high-quality wines in which restrictions related to alcohol, wine making techniques, yields, ageing, and other criteria apply. Argentina has so far two DOCs, Lujan del Cuyo and San Rafael– and roughly 90 IGs. So far, the DOCs are used by only a handful of producers. Two locations in the Uco Vallley are close to the creation of IGs- Pajare Altamira and San Carlos- in Tupungato.  

Wine Producing Regions in Argentina


          Mendoza is by far the largest wine region in Argentina. Located on a high-altitude plateau at the edge of the Andes Mountains, the province is responsible for roughly 70 percent of the country’s annual wine production. The French grape variety Malbec has its New World home in the vineyards of Mendoza, producing red wines of great concentration, which are characteristically bright and intense, with floral notes and flavors of dark fruit.

          While the province of Mendoza is large, its viticultural land is clustered mainly in the northern part, just south of Mendoza City. Here, the regions of Lujan de Cuyo, Maipu and the Uco Valley are home to some of the biggest names in Argentinian wine.

          Mendoza’s winemaking history is nearly as old as the colonial history of Argentina itself. The first vines were planted by priests of the Catholic Church’s Jesuit order in the mid-16th Century, borrowing agricultural techniques from the Incas and Huarpes, who had occupied the land before them. Malbec was introduced around this time by a French agronomist, Miguel Aimé Pouget.

In the 1800s, Spanish and Italian immigrants flooded into Mendoza to escape the ravages of the phylloxera louse that was devastating vineyards in Europe at the time. A boom in wine production came in 1885, when a railway line was completed between Mendoza and the country’s capital city, Buenos Aires, providing a cheaper, easier way of sending wines out of the region. For most of the 20th Century, the Argentinean wine industry focused almost entirely on the domestic market, and it is only in the past 25 years that a push toward quality has led to the wines of Mendoza gracing restaurant lists the world over.

               Altitude is one of the most important characteristics of the Mendoza terroir. The strip of vineyard land that runs along the base of the Andes lies between 800 and 1200 Mts. above sea level, and it is this altitude that moderates the hot, dry climate of the region. Warm, sunny days are followed by nights made much colder by westerly winds from the Andes. This cooling-off period slows ripening, extending the growing season and contributing rich, ripe flavors to the grapes, which that do not come at the expense of acidity.

The rivers that cross the region runs down from the mountains that facilitate irrigation. Warm, dry harvest periods mean that winemakers are able to pick their grapes according to ripeness, rather than being ruled by the vagaries of the weather. This leads to a reduction in vintage variation, and consistent quality from year to year. Harvests also afford Mendoza’s winemakers the increased control over the styles of wine they produce – a factor, which has contributed to the region’s international reputation.

          The soils in Mendoza are Andean in origin and have been deposited over thousands of years by the region’s rivers. These rocky, sandy soils have little organic matter and are free draining, making them dry and low in fertility. This kind of soil is perfect for viticulture – vines are forced to work hard for hydration and nutrients, and will produce small, concentrated berries. The wines produced from grapes grown on these soils are often highly structured, with firm tannins, and have a distinct minerality that is often attributed to the soil.

While Malbec is undoubtedly the star of the region, there are also extensive plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Syrah, Torrontes and Sauvignon Blanc.

          To the north of Mendoza are the regions of San Juan, La Rioja, Jujui, Tucuman, Salta, and Catamarca, the last two being even higher in elevation. A world-topping vineyard owned by Bodega Colomé in Molinos sits at 3000m. Low S. latitudes in this corner of Argentina are tempered by the high altitude and cold mountain air. Here, Argentina’s signature white grape, Torrontes, is grown, making an aromatic, floral white wine.

          There are also some wine-producing regions in Argentina closer to the Atlantic coast than to the lofty peaks of the Andes. Patagonia in the south is now home to two regions, Rio Negro and Neuquén, the cooler conditions of which are suited to creating wines made from Pinot Noir.


          Neuquén is a very young wine-producing region on the Patagonian plains of southern Argentina. Wine has been made here on a commercial scale only since the early 2000s, but the region has already shown both significant growth and promise. Wines ranging from good value to ultra premium are produced here, mostly from Malbec, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.

The province of Neuquén covers a large area of northern Patagonia, just to the south of Argentina’s most prolific wine region of Mendoza. In practice, however, winemaking is contained to a scant 1400ha surrounding the small town of San Patricio del Chana on the Neuquén River.

          The first commercial vineyards in the region were planted after wine producers were encouraged by the international success of the wines of Mendoza. The winery that developed the land has since sold off pockets to other premium producers, encouraging the growth of Neuquén as a wine region.

The Neuquén viticultural region is markedly different from most of the rest of Argentina. Elevations here reach only about 1000 300m above sea level and   the climate is significantly cooler than in Mendoza.

          Strong desert winds and hot sun combine to provide a climate in Neuquén that is sufficiently temperate for viticulture. Warm, sunny desert days are followed by brisk desert nights, and the diurnal temperature variation that results extends the growing season, allowing the grapes time to develop fruit complexity without sacrificing acidity, and the wines are well balanced as a result. This windy part of the desert is fed by the Neuquén River, which brings melt water from the Andes to hydrate the vineyards. The stony alluvial soils are well drained, and allow root systems to grow deeply into the ground for minerals. The healthy vines that result produce high-quality grapes with an excellent concentration of sugars and acids.

The relatively cool climate in Neuquén means that although much of the region produces red wines, the quality of the whites made here is high has been recognized by Experts and consumers.