In the October newsletter, I wrote about special wine growing areas and contrasted Temecula with its relatively mild weather, and the Santa Rita Hills with their cold, foggy winds. The upshot is that mild weather areas can produce a wide array of grape varieties, while more extreme areas can (and often do) produce one or two special varieties, expressing a very distinctive style.
Snow melting from the Andes Mountains water these 100 year old vines
I am a huge fan of Argentina as a grape growing region, as a tourist destination, and as a place for doing business. For the last two years I have been going to Mendoza, Argentina looking for a special vineyard to purchase. My goal has been to acquire a property that is irrigated directly by snow melt from the Andes Mountains and has 100-year-old Malbec vines. Just think, when William Taft was President, most Americans had no car or electricity, and yet these vines were already growing! For perspective, our oldest vineyards here at Ponte are only 41 years old.
To date, I haven’t found a farm that meets the two requirements at a price I can afford; however, I have found the next best thing: A steady supply of grapes and wine from just such a vineyard. Because they already sell their wine in Europe and in very small quantities in North America, I cannot tell you who they are. And so, we’ll let the wine speak for itself. The 2007 Malbec is from Mendoza, an area that enjoys huge thermal excursions both annually and daily. It is a high desert on the side of the largest mountain chain in the Americas, dwarfing our own Sierra Nevada. I drank several bottles of this Malbec with friends while in Mendoza, and it “brought water to my eyes,” to use the old Irish phrase.
I was also lucky enough to find a source for the perfect white wine to go with it: 2010 Torrontés. This wine comes from grapes grown in the high desert of Salta in North Western Argentina. Salta offers a microclimate that, to my knowledge, is unique in the world where high altitude farming is a fine blend of tradition and technology. The vineyard is located at 7,000 feet above sea level! I believe that extreme places produce distinctive taste-taste that cannot be duplicated or improved upon in a winery. The aroma in this wine has to be experienced, as I don’t have the words to describe it. “Camellias” come closest. The taste is spectacularly different and very surprising after enjoying the aroma. “Weird but wonderful,” are the words that come to mind.
These two wines are special because they are so different than what we produce here in Temecula. They come from extreme vineyards-vineyards that are blessed with natural, rare or unique characteristics. They cannot be produced or imitated here in Temecula, nor can they be improved by our local growing practices. They are part of a “special shipment” that was exclusive to our Wine Club Members. However, a new vintage will be available to everyone in November 2011 for both tasting and sale in our Tasting Room.
Thanks for your continued support and we hope to see you at the winery soon!