Altos las Hormigas Clasico Malbec 2017
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The young and unoaked 2017 Malbec Clásico was cropped from a transition year between El Niño and La Niña and was produced mainly with grapes from Luján de Cuyo. It fermented in stainless steel with native yeasts and aged in concrete vats for no less than nine months. I find it to be a little grapey and, compared with the 2016s, a little riper. It's fruit-driven and straightforward, juicy and not terribly complex. It has some of the violet aromas and flavors from the variety, with good freshness and tension. There are a number of lots, as they produce a whopping 790,000 bottles of this.
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.
With a winning combination of cool weather, high elevation and well-draining alluvial soils, it is no surprise that Mendoza’s Uco Valley is one of the most exciting up-and-coming wine regions in Argentina. Healthy, easy-to-manage vines produce low yields of high-quality fruit, which in turn create flavorful, full-bodied wines with generous acidity.
Celebrated for its bold flavors and supple texture, Malbec has enjoyed runaway success in Argentina since the late 20th century. The grape originated in Bordeaux, France, where it historically contributed color and tannin to blends. A French agronomist, who saw great potential for the variety in Mendoza’s hot, high-altitude landscape, brought Malbec to Argentina in 1868. Somm Secret—If you’re trying to please a crowd, Malbec is generally a safe bet with its combination of dense fruit and soft tannins.