Location, location, location. It’s always about the location. And few things are truer than when you discuss location and the growth of outstanding wine grapes. Alamos, The Wines of Catena, one of Argentina’s premier winemakers, knows this as well as anyone in the world.
The location for Alamos’ vineyards, nestled along the base of Argentina’s Andes, provides great sun, clear and pure mountain water, cool evenings and near perfect temperatures for the growth of a variety of grapes. Normally, one immediately associates Argentina in general with Malbecs, but to do so is to overlook its premium Chardonnays. With Alamos’ 2014 Chardonnay, the overlooking of this wine would be a serious mistake. The 2014 Chardonnay is beautiful, full of flavor without an overload of any specific characteristic often associated with Chardonnays.
The wine, on opening, sets forth apple and vanilla, with a spiciness followed by a slight touch of pears. After the wine opens up, a taste brings out more vanilla and a fullness in the mouth. The finish is slightly acidic and has a citrus highlight. It’s fresh and maintains its taste even after it warms to near room temperature.
Getting back to location, the Alamos Chardonnay grapes were cultivated in the Mendoza region. With some of the vineyards ranging to 5000’, the grapes are irrigated by a mineral-rich source of water, coming almost directly from the mountain’s snowmelt. Due of the prevailing winds, the Mendoza region is characterized as a desert, with the rain from the winter storms being siphoned off as the fronts cross the Andes heading toward Argentina.
With the heavy winter rains being stopped by the mountains, the area gets the results of the storms (the run-off) but without the wetness associated with many other mountain regions. When you combine this with the intense sunlight found at the growing altitudes, the area is near perfect for the production of the Chardonnay grapes.
For the 2014 season, the early growing conditions turned out to be some of the coolest in recent years. This combined with a warmer than normal summer, one which was wetter than usual. This made the winemaking focus to be on managing the crop, working with time to produce the desired Chardonnay. And in fact, the 2014 turned out to be one of the better in recent years for Alamos.
At harvest, the grapes were, depending on location, either hand or machine harvested. Crushing and pressing were followed by a period of cold settlement, and at that point, the remaining solids were removed from the juice. Fermentation took place in upright tanks and barrels at a maximum temperature of 64˚ F. Total upright fermentation was about three weeks. Final aging was in French and American oak for approximately six months.
The 2014 Chardonnay was 100% Chardonnay grapes from Mendoza Argentina. Alcohol was 13.5% and the pH was 3.51.
Overall, this is a very nice Chardonnay, one which can complement most meals.
Enjoy, and have a winederful day!