Altos Las Hormigas, 'Appellation Altamir' Uco Valley Malbec 2014
Altos Las Hormigas is based in Luján de Cuyo, the first officially recognised appellation in Mendoza and one of the region's premium vine growing areas. The estate is known as a Malbec specialist with a reputation as one of the country's top five producers of this particular variety. Alberto Antonini and fellow Tuscan, Antonio Morescalchi, were so impressed with the vineyards in the area around Mendoza, following their first trip to Argentina in 1995, that they persuaded a few friends to join with them in buying this estate. The estate covers 88 hectares with 56 in production.
The Altamira vineyard is certified organic. The grapes are sourced from the alluvial terrace of Altamira, lying at 1,200 metres above sea level. Limestone covered pebbles and gravels occupy 85% of the soil volume, providing elegance and minerality in the wines. 3% of clay in the fine matrix allows the Malbec to express fresh red fruit flavours, as well as a delicate and elegant roundness on the palate.
The season began with severe frosts that lowered yields by 30%. November brought a few dry Zonda winds that challenged the flowering stage and lowered yields even more. December and January brought heatwaves and late summer rains. In three weeks the region received equivalent to two years worth of rain. Grapes were harvested before mildew or rot had chance to set in and the resulting grapes showed good levels of acidity, lower alcohol content and fine tannins.
The grapes went through a double selection process and were harvested into small concrete containers. The alcoholic fermentation began with indigenous yeasts at 24°C. The wine spent three weeks on its skins. In order to maintain careful, gentle handling, pumping over was not used, instead the cap was rotated by manual pigeage throughout the fermentation. The wine was matured in 3,500 litre untoasted Foudres for 18 months, and a further 12 months in bottle. There was a coarse filtration prior to bottling, to ensure that the quality of the wine was not interfered with.
Fresh and delicate on the nose showing layers of red cherries and raspberries combined with herbal notes of wild rocket and thyme and a touch of minerality. On the palate it is elegant and supple with fine tannins providing structure. A graceful, complex, deep and structured wine with considerable length.