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CARO was born of the alliance between two wine cultures (French and Argentine), two noble grape varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec), and two renowned wine families, Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) and Nicolas Catena. Vignerons since the 19th century, these two powerful organizations have combined their deep knowledge of Mendoza's high altitude terroir and the art of winemaking to create a unique wine: CARO. Two noble grapes, two families, one dear and elegant wine.
The idea of forming a partnership between Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) and the Catena family was born in 1999. Initial enthusiasm quickly became a concrete plan to produce a single wine that would combine French and Argentine cultures and the two signature grapes of each producer, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Catena family has produced wine for three generations. Consequently, it was able to draw on its vast knowledge of the high altitude terroirs of the Mendoza region as well as its passion for Malbec to find the best vineyards. DBR (Lafite) contributed its centuries-old skills in growing, vinifying and ageing great Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as its know-how in blending different grape varieties to produce one wine that is greater than the sum of its parts.
The vineyard locations for the Cabernet Sauvignon are 40% from a 20-year-old vineyard in Agrelo, a region 3,117 feet in elevation, and 10% from 30-year old vines in El Cepillo la Consulta, with an elevation of 3,773 feet. The vineyard locations for Malbec are 10% from a 12 year old vineyard in Tupungato at 4,593 feet elevation and also 40% from a 53-year-old vineyard in Vistalba, at 3,609 feet elevation. Throughout the season we monitor the vineyard technique, irrigation management and bud thinning to ensure low yields in balance with the canopy, good ventilation and illumination.
Fernando Buscema is a passionate winemaker and researcher. He is a fifth-generation winemaker and was born in the heart of Mendoza, one of the world’s most well-known winemaking regions. After graduating with honors at Don Bosco School of Enology, Fernando joined the Catena Zapata family in 2005. In 2007, after showing a clear devotion for quality and attention to detail, he became Research & Development Director.
Fernando has vast international winemaking experience and has worked in several wineries in Italy and California. In 2012, Buscema earned a master’s degree from the Department of Viticulture and Enology at the prestigious University of California, Davis. While at UC Davis, Buscema worked and lectured with famous professor Dr. Roger Boulton. Particularly, Fernando was engaged in groundbreaking research regarding growing Malbec in various geographic areas in Argentina and the United States.
With vineyards tretching along the eastern side of the Andes Mountains from Patagonia in the south to Salta in the north, Argentina is one of the world’s largest and most dynamic wine producing countries—and most important in South America.
Since the late 20th century vineyard investments, improved winery technology and a commitment to innovation have all contributed to the country’s burgeoning image as a producer of great wines at all price points. The climate here is diverse but generally continental and agreeable, with hot, dry summers and cold snowy winters—a positive, as snow melt from the Andes Mountains is used heavily to irrigate vineyards. Grapes very rarely have any difficulty achieving full ripeness.
Argentina’s famous Mendoza region, responsible for more than 70% of Argentina’s wine production, is further divided into several sub-regions, with Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley most noteworthy. Red wines dominate here, especially Malbec, the country’s star variety, while Chardonnay is the most successful white.
The province of San Juan is best known for blends of Bonarda and Syrah. Torrontés is a specialty of the La Rioja and Salta regions, the latter of which is also responsible for excellent Malbecs grown at very high elevation.
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde River, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.
In the Glass
Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux lean towards a highly structured and earthy style whereas New World areas (as in the ones named above) tend to produce bold and fruit-forward blends. Either way, Bordeaux red blends generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.
Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb or smoked duck.
While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.