Estancia Uspallata has basically come out of nowhere to be recognized as one of Argentina’s new stars. Under the guiding eyes of two of Argentina’s more prominent wine personalities, Jeff Mausbach and Alejandro Sejanovich, respectively, who teamed up with the Saud family, owners of the estate in 2015, Uspallata in only a few years, and with younger vines to say the least, has come out with some brilliant wines. With some of Argentina’s highest vineyards, over 6500 feet above sea level, the highest vineyard in Mendoza, the Estancia has only around 10 acres of vineyards, first plantings in 2008, with focus on Malbec, along with some Pinot Noir and a little bit of Cabernet Franc.
The 2019 Estancia Uspallata Igneo, a blend of 90 % Malbec along with 7% Cabernet Franc and 3 % Pinot Noir, is an exceptional wine. A unique soil profile sets the stage, ancient volcanic colluvial, reported to be a million years old when the Andes were first taking form, allowing the extremely dry, mountain conditions to produce fruit that gives a true expression of sight and place, producing wines of exceptional fruit purity and clarity.
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97 pts Tim Atkin MW 2021 Argentine Red Wine Discovery of the Year
Igneo is a co-fermented blend of Malbec with 10% Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc, made as an expression of ‘the whole vineyard’ in Uspallata, according to Alejandro Sejanovich. It’s a stunning first release, produced with 70% whole clusters and showing amazing lavender and sage aromas, sappy, savoury tannins and layers of white pepper, blackberry and red cherry. 2023-2031.
95 pts Decorchados Jan 2022
A powerful and highly concentrated red with sweet flavors of black fruits and jams amid juicy flavors and sweet spices. The palate is filled with a warm sensation (from the alcohol) and soft touches in this generous red with broad shoulders and a succulent structure. This is a blend of 90% malbec, 7% cabernet franc, and 3% pinot noir fermented with whole clusters and aged in barrels for 18 months. One to make room for in the cellar.
94 pts Vinous Oct 2020
Made with grapes grown 2,000 meters up the mountain in Uspallata, this unusual blend of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Pinot Noir was micro-fermented with stalks. Violet in the glass. The remarkably fruity nose features juicy cherries and plums followed by an attractive perfume of lavender and violet. Linear and slightly corseted in the mouth; the fine-grained tannins shape the relaxed structure, while the lavender finish lasts at length. A unique wine for Argentina that one might describe as mountain-style. Drink: 2020-2029.
Estancia Uspallata, located 6,560 feet above sea level, is the highest vineyard in all of Mendoza. It is situated in the Quebrado del Minero (Miner’s Canyon), just outside of the town of Uspallata. The estate belongs to the Saud family of Buenos Aires and is part of a massive mountain ranch of almost 100,000 acres. However, as is often the case in these Andean properties, only a tiny fraction is actually usable. In 2008, the Saud family planted a small vineyard of about 10 acres (five acres each of Malbec and of Pinot Noir) on a pronounced north-facing slope.
In 2015, Ariel and Belen Saud approached Alejandro Sejanovich and Jeff Mausbach to partner in the development of the property, taking charge of the viticulture, winemaking, and commercial activities. Under Alejandro’s care, the vineyard has thrived, and one-half acre of Cabernet Franc has been added. The plan is to continue to develop the estate, with small parcels of different grape varieties matched to the tapestry of soil profiles found on the property.
The vineyard is planted on a unique profile of colluvial soils. Shallow, sandy soils are composed of porphyry and limestone. They are ancient volcanic materials that were formed with the birth of the Andes Mountains. Seismic activity over the millennia caused the mountains that form the canyon to crumble, falling over the slope where the vineyard is planted -hence its colluvial nature.