Getting to grips with Argentina’s terroir: Hyatt winemaker nights

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Getting to grips with Argentina’s terroir: Hyatt winemaker nights

winetasting Hyatt Mendoza

If you want to get your teeth into a wine tasting that goes beyond a simple wine flight, this is the one for you. The new ‘terroir sessions’ series at The Hyatt wine bar is shaping up to be an excellent regular tasting in Mendoza.

It was almost two years ago when the weekly Winemaker’s Nights at The Vines of Mendoza came to an end (when they closed their wine bar), leaving a big gap in the city for professional wine tastings. The Hyatt has now picked up that mantle, and is offering a series of expert wine tastings every second Wednesday in their Uvas Tasting Room (which coincidentally used to be The Vines tasting room).

Hyatt winemaker nightsUsually accompanied by the winemaker, you taste through at least three premium wines from the winery focusing on the different concept and terroir for each wine. After a professional appreciation of the wines, a few tasty nibbles come out opening up the discussion so you can eat, drink, be merry, and interrogate the host winemaker with all your unanswered questions.

Last week Alta Vista took to the tasting table with winemaker Matthieu Grassin taking the group of wine lovers on a whirlwind tour of their single vineyard range of Malbecs. Each comes from old vines (all over 80 years old), from a massal selection of Malbec, and are picked with the same maturity. The only difference is the ‘terroir’. This was the topic of discussion over the tasting, and Matthieu brought photos from the regions to take us there virtually as we tasted the wines.

Single vineyard is an important concept to Alta Vista. They were the first in Argentina to use the term, and at the time (in 2000) they were able to register ‘single vineyard’ because no one else was using it. They also registered ‘terroir’, another word no one was using yet. Argentina has a turbulent history behind trademarking names… Wineries in the past have been able to trademark a region’s name and no producers from the region have been able to use that name consequently. You can trawl through Google to see some examples of shameful trademarking of region names. However Alta Vista generously gave the trademark for both phrases to the national wine institute in 2007. And since then, the concept has caught on fire. Single vineyard is, as we say in Argentina, ‘de moda‘ (in fashion).

Despite their long history with single vineyard wines, Matthieu is a believer in blends. “I think blends will be the future of Argentina,” he said over the tasting. “It is the best way to express the place.”

From the tasting we had though, I am quite content to drink the single vineyards too!

What we tasted:

Temis 2012
The Temis single vineyard comes from old vines in El Cepillo in the Uco Valley. The most feminine of the line up, Temis is floral and fresh with a wonderful violet note that is typical of the region. With a light tickle of spice on the finish, Temis is a beautiful, fresher style of Malbec with smooth tannins and a delicious lineal finish.
Wine for: Those who love to drink Malbec before dinner.

Serenade 2012
Coming from Lujan de Cuyo’s Agrelo region, these old vines produce a much more dense and powerful Malbec with rich and ripe plummy fruits, a spicy peppered bacon note and a voluminous mouth with more rustic tannins. If the Temis was the fair maiden of the group, Serenade is the brawny beefcake. It naturally calls for a typical Argentine BBQ.
Wine for: Juicy, fatty meat. The sort that makes any Argentine’s mouth water.

Alizarine 2012
Alizarine would be the love child of both the previous Malbecs. It shares the more feminine floral notes of Temis, and the rich fruit of Serenade. Las Compuertas is a unique spot in Lujan de Cuyo because it has a wider thermal amplitude than anywhere else in Lujan de Cuyo and even some places in the Uco Valley. Matthieu likes to use parts of this old vineyard for Alta Vista’s top wine, Alto, because of its potential for aging.
Wine for: Collectors and wine geeks.

We also got to sample their delicious new Brut Nature bubbly, which was a lovely bonus!


The next Terroir Sessions is Wednesday 23rd November at 8pm in Uvas wine bar. It costs $390 per person and more details are available on Facebook.

Amanda Barnes

Amanda Barnes

Amanda Barnes is a British journalist who has been living in the Southern Hemisphere for the last six years, has tried over 500 Malbecs, eaten over 600 Chilean oysters and still has a functioning liver and kidneys (as far as she knows).
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