The Arizu family have been grape growers and viticultural pioneers in Argentina for 5 generations. Think of them as the ‘Mondavis of Mendoza.’ They own the oldest producing Malbec vineyard in Mendoza –planted over 150 years ago – the Las Compuertas vineyard, situated on the banks of the Mendoza River. These vines are so old, that about 15 years ago random plants in underwent a transformation/mutation and came out of the dormant season as a new species of DNA seen nowhere else on earth. Different leaf shape – different bunch sizes and smaller berries, etc. A small bottling is done with fruit from those rogue vines – named Brote Negro Malbec, while the remaining 98% of this vineyard makes 2 different wines – the Las Compuertas Malbec, off the sand lower yielding soils, and this – the Paso De Piedra Malbec of heavier, higher yielding clay soils. Imagine vines over 150 years of age, producing a wine that retails for less than $20.
Gregg – Buyer (November 2020) – Aromatically the 2017 Paso de Piedra Malbec shows lovely fruit purity with the black berry fruit given some lift by subtle floral notes. Medium fuller to fuller bodied, the dark berry fruit is nuanced with some savory tones while the palate feel is plush and supple with finer grained tannins playing off nicely against the wine’s juiciness. Showing well as we speak this should hold up nicely over the next 2-3 years.
John – Partner (November 2020) – Demonstrating that old school restraint and elegance can indeed combine with new world opulence and power. Impressive dark fruits, with underlying savory edginess and slight hint of fresh violets on the nose. Palate is concentrated and expansive, without being overbearing and oppressive – ample weight, but not a sledgehammer, retaining good drive and focus and even lift. Gorgeous, silky smooth tannins on the finish. Perhaps a little too easy to drink. Sexy wine!
93 pts James Suckling
An attractive red with notes of blackberries, black tea and tar. Full-bodied with a velvety texture and a plush core of fruit on the palate. Focused with outstanding balance and a long finish. Drink now.
92 pts Vinous (JH)
A Malbec from Las Compuertas, Luján de Cuyo, 50% aged in used barrels for six months. Purple in color. The nose features cherry, plum and raisin notes wrapped around an aromatic core of white pepper, black tea and violets. Concentrated without being overly compressed, it is expansive on the palate, delivering moderate freshness and gentle, fine-grained tannins. It was this kind of easygoing, expressive Malbec that made the variety so popular in Argentina and beyond.
Harvested by hand, in 40lb plastic bins, in order to prevent damage to fruit. Harvest takes place around mid-March each year. Back at the winery, table sorting is done, following destemming. Fermentation is performed in large oak foudres, with repeated pump overs and punch downs, in order to achieve softer tannins and great color. Malolactic fermentation takes place partly in steel tanks and the rest in French oak barrels. The wine then returns to the oak barrels, where it ages for about 8 months. The Arizu’s believe in non-interventionist winemaking and for the most part, wine is left alone once it goes to barrel. Following its maturation, it is coarsely filtered through natural earth filters which optimizes clarity and removes impurities. Bottling follows, without fining.