Terrazas de los Andes Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
At the end of the 1950s, the famous French Champagne house, Moët & Chandon, realized there was an enormous potential for growth in South America. They sent their wine analyst, Renaud Poirier, to study the possibility of expansion. Monsieur Poirier finally proved that Luján de Cuyo, a region within the province of Mendoza, was the best place for the birth of fine wines. In 1960, Chandon Argentina was established, the first subsidiary of Moët & Chandon outside France.
To make the Terrazas de los Andes wines, Chandon Argentina took the initiative to restore this building, located in the heart of Perdriel and at the foot of the imposing Cordón del Plata (a section of the Andes Mountain Range).
In the past, Chandon Argentina made only sparkling and generic still wines, however at the beginning of the '90s fueled by a political system more orientated towards an international market, a varietal wines project was born, to which Terrazas has now become the reality. Situated in Perdriel there is an old Spanish style winery that was used by Pedro Domecq to create his brandy. Renaud Poirier asked Domecq if he could use his equipment to make the first experimental vintages, between 1957 and 1959. Thirty years later Terrazas de los Andes was born, a tributary of Chandon Argentina dedicated exclusively to the production of varietal wines.
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!