El Esteco Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
With over 1500 acres of vineyards, El Esteco is the most important winery in the CalchaquÍ Valley of Argentina. An inhospitable but magical place, at dizzying heights of 1700 meters (5600 feet), that breathes life into extraordinary wines. It is a winery that challenges preconceptions, believing in the opportunity to create wines that stand out from the norm.
It is a winery that seeks to surprise, to create distinct wines that highlight the unique characteristics of the CalchaquÍ Valley terroirs. The unique climate of this place manifests itself in the elegant profile of El Esteco’s wines, with colors, aromas and flavors accentuated by the sun and the altitude. These are wines with an indelible sense of place, wines which complement food rather than overpower, wines which are true to their origin.
Argentina of course is heralded for its Malbecs. But in the last two decades Cabernet Sauvignon has been drawing increased attention from winemakers there, and is now the third most planted variety. It is grown in the Mendoza region in the Andean foothills, especially in Maipú and Luján de Cuyo, at altitudes between 2300 and 3100 feet. Here the climate is continental, with hot summers and cold winters. It is very dry and sometimes quite windy, with runoff from the snow-capped Andes providing irrigation. These Argentinian Cabernets offer dark fruit, spice notes, full body and often a voluptuous style.
Another source within Mendoza is the higher altitude Uco Valley, at 3300 to 5000 feet. Up at this level grapes ripen more slowly, despite the bright sun. But that enables them to develop bright acidity levels, giving the wines a fresh quality to go with intense fruit flavors. Another source of good Cabernet Sauvignon in Argentina is Cafayate, in the Calchaquí Valley. North of Mendoza, these vineyards are even higher, at about 5700 feet! These Cabernets carry notes of spice, herbs and menthol to go with dark fruit. Like those from Uco Valley, they show concentration and great vibrancy.
A few producers to look for are Catena, Viña Cobos, Pulenta and Altocedro. Salud!