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CARO Aruma Malbec 2016
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.
By far the largest and best-known winemaking province in Argentina, Mendoza is responsible for over 70% of the country’s enological output. Set in the eastern foothills of the Andes Mountains, the climate is dry and continental, presenting relatively few challenges for viticulturists during the growing season. Mendoza, divided into several distinctive sub-regions, including Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley, is the source of some of the country’s finest wines.
For many wine lovers, Mendoza is practically synonymous with Malbec. Originally a Bordelaise variety brought to Argentina by the French in the mid-1800s, here it found success and renown that it never knew in its homeland where a finicky climate gives mixed results. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Pinot Noir are all widely planted here as well (and sometimes even blended with each other or Malbec). Mendoza's main white varieties include Chardonnay, Torrontés, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.
Known for its big, bold flavors and supple texture, Malbec is most famous for its runaway success in Argentina. However, the variety actually originates in Bordeaux, where it historically contributed color and tannin to blends. After being nearly wiped out by a devastating frost in 1956, it was never significantly replanted, although it continued to flourish under the name Côt in nearby Cahors. A French agronomist who saw great potential for the variety in Mendoza’s hot, high-altitude landscape, brought Malbec to Argentina in 1868. But it did not gain its current reputation as the country's national grape until a surge in popularity in the late 20th century.
In the Glass
Malbec typically expresses deep flavors of blackberry, plum and licorice, appropriately backed by aromas of freshly turned earth and dense, chewy tannins. In warmer, New World regions, such as Mendoza, Malbec will be intensely ripe, and full of fruit and spice. From its homeland in Cahors, its rusticity shines; dusty notes and a beguiling bouquet of violets balance rich, black fruit.
Malbec’s rustic character begs for flavorful dishes, like spicy grilled sausages or the classic cassoulet of France’s Southwest. South American iterations are best enjoyed as they would be in Argentina: with a thick, juicy steak.
If you’re trying to please a crowd, Malbec is generally a safe bet. With its combination of bold flavors and soft tannins, it will appeal to basically anyone who enjoys red wine. Malbec also wins bonus points for affordability, as even the most inexpensive examples are often quite good.