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Alta Vista

text and photographs © 2008 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on Argentina.

white wines

Alta Vista Premium Chardonnay 2007
Five months in barrique for one third of wine, rest is tank. From Clos de los Siete vineyard. Very juicy and fresh, with lots of grapefruity acidity and crisp lemon fruit, with an undertow of gentle oak. Slightly raw in the back palate. 87/100 $12

Alta Vista Premium Torrontes 2007
Harvest on three different dates, spread over 6 weeks. Lovely nose, with both exotic aromatics and a touch of jasmine, but also a touch of banana and really exotic fruit. Quite beguiling. Lots of crispness and juiciness on the palate, with a tang of orange acidity and nice hints of peachy and passionfruit richness. A fine Torrontes. 88/100 £12

red and rosé wines

Alta Vista Malbec Rosé 2007
Direct pressing, not a saignee (would be too alcoholic). Made from younger vines. Leave skins in the press for 8 hours or so. Quite subdued, with a slightly meaty and tannic quality. 86/100 £9

Alta Vista Premium Malbec 2006
100% Malbec from the four different vineyards. 3rd and 4th fill barriques for ageing. Nice big, plummy nose, with touches of cedar and little notes of blueberry florality, but very black fruit and plum driven. 14.5% alcohol, and a touch astringent on the back palate, but there is nice grip and persistence, in an impressive wine. Largest production, at 600,000 bottles out of 2 million total. 87/100 $14

Alta Vista Premium Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
A little bit of US oak, but mostly French. Very nice, big, slightly leafy Cabernet nose, with excellent varietal character, flooded with blackcurrant fruit and spices. Massive fruit sweetness, with a touch of harshness on finish, and perhaps lacking a little flesh, but good fruit, chewy, rustic tannic grip and a well balanced wine that needs food to show at its best. A lot of wine for the money if £7.99 in the UK. 87/100 £14

Alta Vista Grande Reserve Malbec 'Terroir Selection' 2005
100% Malbec, with great colour. Mix of new, 1 and 2nd use barrels. Big, plush, sweet and toasty nose, laden with plum and vanilla, with a suggestion of exotic kirsch and quite perfumed. Maintains quite nice freshness on the palate, with a savoury black fruit character, but again lacking just a touch of flesh perhaps. Dry, savoury tannins and acidity kick in, with a slightly aggressive finish at this stage. 88-89/100 $25

Alta Vista Grande Reserve Malbec 'Terroir Selection' 2004
No longer in stock. Won Trophy at IWSC. Lovely big Malbec nose, with the juicy black cherry and plum fruit and hints of violet and kirsch coming through, as well as a sweet, vanillin oak. The palate has a lot of sweet, fleshy fruit - the flesh that is lacking in the 2005 vintage - and a powerful, concentrated finish where the opulent fruit, spicy oak and tight, supple tannins. 90/100

Alta Vista Single Vineyard Serenade Malbec 2005
Harvested at 6,000 hl per ha. 40-year-old vineyard. Only new barrels used, aged 12 months. Single vineyard in Agrelo on a clay soil. Very nice, refined, quite light nose, with some suggestion of minerality and that bleu/black fruit. Nicely racy palate, with good acidity and a savoury stripe of tannin running through the earthy, but tight and powerful fruit. 91/100. $40

Alta Vista Single Vineyard Alizarine Malbec 2005
Las Compuertas, Lucan de Cuyo. On sand and boulders. Exactly the same viticulture and vinification regime. Much more vinous nose, though perhaps not quite so varietal, with nicely integrated cedary oak, and a racy mid-palate complexity. Really nice wine as it evolves in the mouth, with a glossy, pure fruit quality and very good balance and structure. Only 13.5% ABV, which gives the freshness. 90/100. $40

Alta Vista Single Vineyard Serenade Malbec 2004
Very nice, cedary, vegetal, quite truffly and dark nose, with the plushness of the fruit starting to push through, giving lots of black plum and rich blackberry. On the palate really good, svelte, quite decisive character, with positive, supple tannins edging slick, sweet black fruit, and a supporting kick of the smoky, cedary oak. 90/100.

Alta Vista Single Vineyard Temis Malbec 2004
Alto El Cepillo vineyard, in Uco Valley. Very, aromatic, with some exotic incense notes and a raciness to the fruit, with black olive suggestion to more plush, full plum and a little hint of Malbec violets. On the palate quite racy and silky, with a lovely mid-palate, with savoury tannin and oak background to svelte, concentrated fruit, backed up with lots of spice in a balanced, fresh finish. 91/100.

Alta Vista Single Vineyard Alizarine Malbec 2004
Much more chocolaty and plush, with mint and liquorice, and some high, fennel and rosemary notes. On the palate very powerful and concentrated, with quite a powerful oak and fruit axis filling and drying the mouth, as the tannins take a grip. Lovely concentration and muscularity, but lovely components for the future here. 92/100

Alta Vista Alto 2005
This wine is not made every year, but around 15,000 bottles produced. This vintage not yet released, as it is kept 18 months in bottle. Will be on sale March / April 2008. Malbec 85% with Cabernet Sauvignon 15%. Selection of parcels, identified by satellite photography. Big, bloody, very Bordeaux nose, with lots of richness and plush, smoky fruit. Plenty of plum and berries, with a cherry skin note but lovely chocolaty density. Really nice harmony, with massive plum and bright, juicy cherry richness and that suggestion of bloody ripeness and chocolaty density persisting. Smooth and silky, with very good length and balance. Terrific wine. 93/100 $60

Alta Vista Alto 2004
Same grape proportions. Quite a nutty, herbal character, with some toasty oak and earthiness. Malbec is more expressive, with a real richness and sweetness. On the palate the vanilla and big-boned, muscular structure dominates, perhaps slightly less elegant and less finesse than the 2005, but lovely power. Slightly liquoricy and spicy, and a larger-scaled wine, but impressive and still a baby. 91/100.

Alto Vista Alto 1998
Basically the same vineyards as today, with most fruit from Compuertas, and an 80/20 blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. A real treat to taste the first ever vintage of Alto, made by the original winemaker who was tragically killed in a boating accident. Very nice nose, that has developed coffee and some exotic Sandalwood notes, and lovely bloody fruit quality. Plate has a lovely older wine elegance, with smooth, harmonious tannins and a gentle acidity, and a raft of silky, lightly gamy character, with a touch of elegant brett, that presents a delicious, silky wine with lovely length and spicy, persistence. 93/100

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