Altocedro: Power and Control

There’s almost no stopping Malbec, it is surely one of the great success stories of the decade. What is interesting now is that it seems to have grown up very quickly, with winemakers taking it to the next level in a relatively short space of time. Yes, there are still those who believe that it’s all about super-concentration, lashings of oak and bottles that are so broad-shouldered and heavyweight that you need a forklift to pick up a case. The next level that I am referring to is, the very grown up expression of ‘terroir’ and the control of power.

Karim Mussi Saffie is the man behind Altocedro, and is driven to produce the best wine possible from his vineyards in La Consulta. Picking a great spot to grow grapes is surely the tried and tested method when quality is your mission, and Karim has certainly chosen his site very well with vines at over 1,100 metres above sea level. You hear Argentinians talk a great deal about altitude and there is a logic behind this. At these extreme altitudes, the ripeness of the grapes (and by ripeness I mean in this instance the accumulation of sugars in the grapes) happens later in the season than at lower altitudes, allowing for the physiological ripeness of the grapes to catch up. Thus, you have berries that have fully ripe tannins, acids, together with the sugar. You see? Perfect sense. Karim also has some old vines, which are up to 65 years old.

There you have it. All you need now is a winemaker with some savvy and passion, and the result is some excellent wines. I can’t remember the last time that I got this excited about Argentinian wines as when I first tasted these back in November 2017. I had become really bored with wave after wave of exaggerated Malbecs and it was refreshing to taste wines with a bit of style and elegance, and the control of power.

I almost forgot to mention that Karim also makes an excellent Tempranillo.

Richard Ballantyne MW

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