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2012 Alpamanta Estate Chardonnay, Mendoza
The vineyards of Mendoza wine region in Argentina, where the Alpamanta Estate is situated, are amongst the most scenic in the world; they may lack the precipitous drama of the Douro or the Mosel Valleys, but they more than make up for this with their extraordinarily beautiful back-drop of the Andes Mountains.
Located at just under 1000 metres above sea-level, they bask in a wonderful fresh air and enjoy the natural irrigation afforded by the melting snow from the mountains. No better place for a biodynamic winemaker of the calibre of peripatetic Dutchman, Andrej Razumovsky, whose surname, coincidentally, is shared with a very famous set of mid-period quartets by Beethoven.
His vines are all in the most southerly part of Mendoza, Ugarteche, which falls within the district of Luján de Cuyo. The biodynamic approach involves natural yeasts, minimal use of sulphates and adherence to use of specific treatments such as camomile, Ortega nettle and dandelion, all carefully applied to coincide with lunar and tidal patterns.
Chardonnay is the "Big Daddy" of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world. It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.
With its western borderline dominated by the Andes and its 146,000 hectares of vineyards representing 70% of the country’s wine production, Mendoza is Argentina’s biggest and most important wine-growing province.
Mendoza’s vineyards are a haven to Old World varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo, Bonarda, Sangiovese, Barbera, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc andChenin Blanc. The province’s signature grape is Malbec.
Mendoza still produces large amounts of inexpensive wine for domestic consumption, as well as grape concentrate, but the sub-region of Luján de Cuyo stands out with some lovely velvety Malbecs, while the cool, gravelly Maipú is best for Cabernet Sauvignon.
The most exciting area in Mendoza for fine whites, however, is the Uco Valley, that has the highest vineyards, up to 1,200 metres above sea level. Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Chenin, Pinot Grigio and Torrontés fare particularly well in its cool climate. Its sub-region of Tupungato produces Argentina’s best Chardonnay.
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