Mendoza offers some of the most stunning wine country in the world, vineyards along the Los Caminos del Vino which are predominately dominated by the breathtaking backdrop of the snow-capped Andes. Alta Vista is no exception, in La Primera Zone, in Lujan de Cuyo it’s the home of the Malbec vine and a winery where tradition meets twenty-first century. Two hundred and five hectares of vines are bordered by sweet-smelling lavender and the fruit bearing olive trees double up as home to the wild guinea pigs, who run freely in the grounds.
Built originally in 1899 Alta Vista was sympathetically restored in 2003 bringing it up to date with competitors but also vine-growing technology – it even boasts its own laboratory.
Doors and windows are made from recycled parts of the barrels.
It’s owned by the French d’Aulan family, former owners of the Champagne house Piper-Hedsieck, and in 1998 they created Alta Vista. Their first red was the now Argentinian icon ‘Alto’ . This wine is only produced when the harvest is good enough and it’s a mix of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. It sits in French Oak for 16 months. It’s then decanted into bottles and sits in the cellar for a further 3 years before it goes on sale.
Their philosophy is clear – great wines come from unique places – so they plant on the best terroirs of Mendoza and Salta. All of the 209 hectares they own are split into five vineyards, all 1,000 metres above sea level and each treated in a unique way.
The grapes are harvested by hand and table sorted to select the best fruit. Small concrete tanks replace the ubiquitous stainless steel to ferment their top reds to maximise the fruit character and at the same time providing excellent aeration. Stainless steel tanks are used for the young and the white wines.
In Salta, north of Mendoza, they look after 1220 hectares of land between 2000 to 2300 metres above sea level. It’s here that they cultivate what they claim are the best Torrontés grapes of Argentina. Their cellars offer the perfect temperature and it’s here the owners keep their personal stock under lock and key.
We began the wine tasting with good intent, sipping and spitting but it tasted so good the group ended up drinking probably more than we should.
We tried, as you can see, almost all the wine they produce, except for the sparkling which I’m told is pretty special.
We bought a few bottles of Bonarda which I fell in love with and whilst there was an opportunity to buy more, the shipping back to the UK was hefty we’re hoping we can find a London supplier – but I’m sure it won’t taste the same!