Standing in this vineyard first planted nearly 100 years ago, watching the horses till the soil just as they have for a century, it’s easy to understand this Malbec’s magnificent terroir expression. Intense, fresh red and black fruits combine with linear minerality, bright acidity and silky tannins to produce a powerful, elegant and sultry seduction in a glass.
What does "old vine" mean? By industry standards, the term ‘Old Vine’ usually means a wine whose vines are 30-40 years old, for new world wines. Vinifera can live up to 120 years or more.
What was the winemaking process for the Old Vine Malbec? The Old Vine Malbec was hand-harvested into small plastic bins, and then hand-sorted, and destemmed into one-ton open-top stainless steel fermenting tanks. Cold soak maceration was not warranted, nor any acid corrections, or sulfite additions. The only additions added during the fermentation process were DAP and F33 yeast. Caps were manually punched-down every three hours for a week, then down to three times a day for four days. Skins were pressed off in a pneumatic press to 1 bar. First press fraction was added to main wine, and the rest was discarded. The wine was monitored for two days during gross lees settlement, and then racked to 100% new French oak barrels. The wine stayed on the lees for 20 months and bottled without fining or filtering.
I would usually scribe on about the BDX style blends from HOG but I couldn’t wait to jump into this Jupiter-sized obsidian purple pool of pleasure – Old Vine Malbec. First, let me say - NO WAY - is this a 2011 vintage wine! Unless it were possible to channel Anna Nicole Smith’s bombshell of a body in this gorgeously stuffed Bentley of a Malbec. It’s one of those dreams where you keep falling into a never ending sea of purple marshmallows, late summer boysenberry cobbler a la mode, warmed dates and mascarpone or soft steaming gingerbread cookies. This is exactly when BIGGEST is BEST! Malbec in its’ own Screaming Eagle mink coat…long and beautiful, soft, dark and luxurious. I can hear all my “somm” friends cringe about my lusty affair with this gorgeous monster of a Malbec. This is too good to be true!
Maipu is a wine-growing sub-zone of Agentina's largest viticultural region, Mendoza, and is situated just south-east of the city of Mendoza. The Maipu region is home to some of Mendoza's biggest wine names and produces bright, intense, red wines made from Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.
The small town of Maipu lies on the southern outskirts of Mendoza City, and vineyard land stretches south from here toward the Mendoza River, encompassing the smaller regions of Barrancas, Lunlunta and Coquimbito. The similarly extensive Lujan de Cuyo region is located just to the west of Maipu, and San Martin is 20 miles (32km) to the east.
A Maipu wine label
Like much of Mendoza, Maipu's landscape is dominated by flat vineyards with high altitudes – in this case around 2600ft (800m) above sea level. This altitude sees intense sunlight during the day followed by cold nights that are cooled by alpine winds from the Andes Mountains. This diurnal temperature variation slows ripening overnight, extending the growing season and leading to the development of varietal character without losing precious acidity.
Maipu's position in the rain shadow of the Andes means that it has low annual rainfall. Luckily, the Mendoza River, which flows along the southern edge of Maipu, provides a plentiful source of Andean meltwater for irrigation.
The alluvial soil has been deposited along the banks of the river over time from the Andes. Due to its mountainous origins, this stony, sandy soil has low fertility and is low in organic matter. This is ideal for premium viticulture – the dry soil stresses the vines, restricting vigor and yields and leading to the production of small, highly concentrated grapes with thick skins. The resultant wines are densely flavored, with good structure and tannins.
One might be forgiven for confusing Maipu with the similarly named Maipo Valley wine region in Chile. In fact, it is from this wine region that Maipu takes its name, albeit indirectly: the town's name commemorates the 1818 Battle of Maipu, in which South American rebels, led by Argentinean general Jose de San Martin, defeated the Spanish royalists and gained independence.
Familia Zuccardi, Rutini and Trapiche all have vineyards in the area, and while Maipu is not quite as highly regarded as Lujan de Cuyo or the Uco Valley, it is still regarded as an excellent terroir for Malbec, Argentina's iconic grape variety.
Food Pairing Notes
Food Pairing with Malbec
Malbec is a medium to full-bodied red wine, and thus, it begs to be paired with more full-flavored foods. However, unlike Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec doesn’t have a super long finish (or as aggressive tannins), which means it will pair extremely well with leaner red meats, and even lighter cuts like dark meat turkey or roasted pork. The pairing secret of Malbec is that it works well with pepper, sage, creamy mushroom sauces, melted cheese, and in particular, blue cheese. YUM!