There was a time where only the Argentinians cared about their Malbecs, when no one else did. Originally from south-west France, the Malbec has become Argentina’s signature variety. Full of black and red plum fruit, usually with a cooked or syrupy edge. Alcohol starting at 14% and edging up to 16%. The Malbec wine offers a great alternative to the higher priced Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. However, there’s more to Malbec than just value.
The main fruit flavors in a glass of Argentine Malbec are blackberry, plum and black cherry. The nuanced flavors offer milk chocolate, cocoa powder, violet flowers, leather and, depending on the amount of oak aging, a sweet tobacco finish.
History of Malbec
Malbec (sometimes called Côt and Auxxerois) is from France where it grows in the Sud-Ouest. The thick-skinned grape is a natural cross of two esoteric varieties that are from Montpellier (in Languedoc-Roussilon) and Gaillac in the Sud-Ouest. Today the majority of France’s Malbec is found in Cahors, a small town on a switchback river that gently flows towards Bordeaux.
Malbec quickly became common as a blending grape in Bordeaux’s top 5 wine grapes. However, because of the grapes’ poor resistance to weather and pests, it never surfaced as a top French variety. Instead, it found a new home in Mendoza, Argentina where a nostalgic French botanist planted it by order of the mayor in 1868.
TintoNegro, meaning “black wine” in Spanish, is meant to celebrate the essence of Malbec in Mendoza. Known for its dark, blackish color, Malbec is definitely a Tinto Negro.
TintoNegro wines are meant to reflect the heart and soul of Malbec in Mendoza. The portfolio explores the different terroirs of Mendoza where Malbec does best, isolating unique vineyard sites and winemaking techniques which showcase the heights of concentration and complexity to which Malbec can aspire. TintoNegro was born of the long time friendship and professional collaboration of Alejandro Sejanovich and Jeff Mausbach, colleagues at Bodega Catena Zapata for almost 15 years. As Wine Education Director for Catena, Jeff travelled the world preaching the gospel of the unique character of high altitude Malbec from Mendoza, explaining the character and expression of its many different terroirs. As Viticultural Director at Catena, Alejandro had extensive, first hand experience growing Malbec in all of these terroirs, from the fruit driven, easy drinking style of Lujan de Cuyo to the concentrated, complex profile La Consulta. He uses his intimate knowledge of the top vineyards in each region to ensure that TintoNegro wines are made from only the best fruit each area has to offer.
Tinto Negro Malbec Mendoza
Sourced from Mendoza’s Primera Zona of Lujan de Cuyo and Maipu the Mendoza blend is meant to showcase the exceptional value and approachable profile of Malbec. The wine’s soft, drinkable style is accompanied by light oak aging for additional complexity. The Primera Zona of the Lujan de Cuyo and Maipu areas is located 10 miles to the south, southwest of the city of Mendoza. Altitudes range from 2,600’ to 3,300’ elevation. Average high temperature during the critical March ripening season is 83ºF with a 26ºF diurnal shift to an average night-time low of 57ºF. To the east of this Upper Mendoza River Valley are the Cuchillas de Lunlunta, a group of lower hills that block cool air coming off the mountains to produce very cold nights. Thermal amplitudes during March and April average 25° F. The cold nights help to retain bright, natural acidity in the wines. These temperature profiles produce Malbecs with rich plum flavors and notes of sweet spice.
Lujan de Cuyo and Maipu have a deep soil profile with a clay – loam texture. This alluvial valley has some of the heavier soils in Mendoza with higher levels of water retention than most other areas in Mendoza. As a result irrigation regimes, often managed with the furrow, surface method, are administered every 14 days or so. This soil profile produces Malbec wines with an opulent, soft texture and ripe, sweet tannins. To showcase this, the TintoNegro Mendoza Malbec is vinified at low temperature, with agressive cap management and extraction during the first 5 – 7 days of fermentation, including an average of 2 delestages and three pump-overs each day. This ensures maximum polyophenolic extraction, while avoidng extraction of the dry, astringent seed tannins. The final 5 – 7 days of fermentation are managed with soft, gentle pump-overs.
Tinto Negro Malbec Uco Valley
Sourced from Mendoza’s high altitude Uco Valley, this blend is meant to showcase the cool climate style of Malbec with intense floral aromatics, dark fruit flavors, rich texture and a bright, fresh finish. The wine is aged for 9 months in French oak, 10% new. The Uco Valley is located 30 miles to the south, southwest of the city of Mendoza. Altitudes range from 3,700’ to 5,000’ elevation. The average high temperature during the critical March ripening season is just 76ºF with a significant diurnal shift of 30ºF to an average night-time low of 46ºF. These cold nights help to retain bright, natural acidity, with dark blackberry and black cherry flavors and intense floral aromatics.
The Uco Valley has a shallow soil profile with sandy – silt texture. These very light soils offer excellent drainage. As a result, irrigation regimes, which are often managed with the drip method, are administered every 7 days or so. The area also has 10 – 30% surface stones which are rich in calcium carbonate. This soil profile produces Malbec wines with a concentrated yet racy texture and a stony minerality on the finish.
In order to showcase the cool climate profile of Malbec, the TintoNegro Uco Valley is vinified using extensive cold macerations for up to 8 days at 46° F. Extensive cap management is performed during this time, before fermentation begins, in order to extract maximum aromatic precursors and retain the fruit’s flinty minerality.
Fermentation temperatures are kept low, with maximums of 78° F, in order to emphasize the racy texture of cool climate Malbec. The wine is racked off the skins to finish alcoholic fermentation in barrel in order to heighten oak integration.
TintoNegro Malbec Finca la Escuela
Altamira is Mendoza’s premiere region for Malbec. Each vineyard has a patchwork of unique soil structures: sandy in some areas, stony patches of calcareous rocks, and light sandy, silt. Each soil profile lot within a vineyard is harvested at different dates, co-fermenting each with different amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The wine is aged for 12 months in French oak, 50% of which is new.
Check out these Malbecs from Tinto Negro
Tinto Negro Malbec Mendoza 2017
Sourced from Mendoza’s Primera Zona of Maipu and Lujan de Cuyo the Mendoza blend is meant to showcase the exceptional value and approachable profile of Malbec. The wine’s soft, drinkable style is accompanied by light oak aging for additional complexity.
🍽 Perfect match for grilled chicken, Asian cuisine
Retail Price: S$ 39.00
Tinto Negro Uco Valley Malbec 2016
Sourced from Mendoza’s high altitude Uco Valley, this blend is meant to showcase the cool climate style of Malbec. Intense floral aromatics, dark fruit flavors, rich texture and a bright, fresh finish – cool climate Malbec. The wine is aged for 6 months in French oak, 5% new.
🍽 Perfect match for roasts, grilled meats, soft cheeses
Retail Price: S$ 46.00
Tinto Negro Finca La Escuela Malbec 2015
A single vineyard wine from a young vineyard in Altamira planted by Alejandro about ten years ago at high density (7,000 plants per hectare). Notes of ripe cherries and plums, black pepper and licorice along with good intensity and elegance. With time, it develops strong aromas of balsamic, mint and eucalyptus. The palate is medium-bodied, with sweet, round tannins, clean flavours and good balance and persistence, ending with a licorice note.
🍽 Perfect match for Argentinian steaks
Retail Price: S$ 70.00
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