Friends and business partners Alberto Antonini and Antonio Morescalchi have come a long way since they were impressed by Mendoza’s vineyards on their first visit in 1995. They have gone from being youthful interlopers to one of the country’s leading producers, as well as being pioneers of a more elegant style of Malbec.
Alberto and Antonio work very closely with Pedro Parra (widely regarded as the South American expert on soil and vineyard mapping) in order to identify the best locations to grow their grapes. Digging and probing each corner of Mendoza, they have discovered outstanding sites and aim to reveal their distinct characters through their wines. From Luján de Cuyo they obtain fine tannins, concentration and a dark purple colour, whereas the calcareous, high-altitude sites of Vistaflores, Altamira and Gualtallary each bring distinctive perfumes and mouth-filling textures.
A biodynamic approach in the vineyard, as well as minimal intervention in the winery – including natural yeasts, a move from oak to concrete for the Malbec Clásico as well as the use of large, neutral oak for ageing the single vineyard wines – are practices dictated by Altos Las Hormigas’ philosophy to ensure the wine stays true to its place of origin. Their combined wealth of experience as a winemaking team, as well as their never-ending experimentation and desire to produce the best wines that Argentina can offer, has made Altos Las Hormigas a Malbec specialist, with a reputation as one of the country’s top producers of this variety.
Most of the fruit for the Clasico is from vineyards in Lujan de Cuyo with sandy loam soils. This is supplemented with some fruit from the high altitude vineyards of the Uco Valley, both of which bring different characteristics to the wine. The area has a semi-desert climate with little rainfall and hot days and cool nights. The soils are deep which delays ripening and avoids hydrological stress.
Grapes from different vineyards were vinified separately before the final blend was assembled. After a careful double sorting process, the grapes were gently pressed and fermented with indigenous yeasts in order to express the character of each of the selected vineyards. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks between 24-28°C for 10 days. Each tank is tasted three times a day to determine what is needed. The wine is then aged for a minimum of nine months in concrete vats.
This Malbec is deep violet-red in colour. The nose displays characteristic notes of red fruits, raspberries and freshly picked plums with white pepper. This wine is all about freshness - the palate is supple and juicy, with soft but structured tannins and a long finish.