Visiting a Winery in Argentina : the Standard Version

Hello and welcome to Bodega Denada. My name is Maria Luz, and I am the hospitality manager for the winery. Denada is an indian word that means « created out of nothing », which reflects our American/French/Argentinian owner’s dream, when he started the winery in the mid-1990s.

We are a relatively small winery, for Argentina : our production is about 1 million bottles a year. We do mostly malbec, as well as some cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot, as well as a little torrontès and chardonnay for whites.

Our grapes come from our own vineyards, although we also purchase some grapes from other producers to bring quality to some of our blends. Most of our vineyards are about 15-20 years old, but we do have a small vineyard – about 20 hectares – that is 70 years old.

The climate

Now, what makes our wines great, here in Argentina, is the climate. Here in Mendoza/San Juan/Salta, it is very, very dry. We have 300 days of sunshine, and we only get 200 mm of rain per year, so all our water for the vines come from the Andes. We have started working with drip irrigation, although the old vineyard still uses flood irrigation. Irrigation allows us to make sure the vines get exactly the water they need and control the yields and the maturity.

What is great about the dry conditions is that it keeps the vines very, very healthy. We are not certified organic, but really, there is no need to spray, around here. Only two times a year, and using copper and sulfur, which are accepted for organic.

The other advantage of our climate is thermal amplitude. It means that there is a big difference, almost 20 degrees Celcius, between day and night. The warm days help develop maturity in the grapes, and the cold nights preserve the acidity and the freshness.

The winery

Here, in the winery, we use a portion of temperature-controlled concrete tanks, as well as large concrete tanks lined with epoxy. We also have about 300 oak barrels, some French, some American.

We rely on good technology, we have all the latest equipment – but of course, winemaking starts with good grapes, because without good grapes, you can’t do anything.

We also acidify all the wines : with the hot climate, here in Argentina, you need to do that to ensure the wines have freshness.

Our head winemaker, Luis, is not here today, as he is traveling in the United States to present our wines. We also work with a well-known consulting winemaker, Paul-Michel Hobbsland, who has helped us improve quality in our wines.

The wines

Today, we will taste five wines. A white wine and four reds : an entry-level, a premium, a super premium and an ultra premium.

First off is our torrontès, which we make in a crisp, fresh style. Torrontès became less popular, in the 80s and 90s, as it used to be made in a very heavy, oily, oxidative style. Now, we make it fresh and crisp, with nice citric notes. This wine is well-liked in export markets.

Our first red wine, Nada Puro Malbec, is made to show the varietal quality. It is very ripe, very fresh and – how you say -  very froooty. 60% of the wine goes into oak barrels, some first use, some second use, some third use, half American, half French, for six months. We use malbecs from different parts of the region to give different characteristics to the final blend. There is a little residual sugar, but not much : only 3, 3.5 grams per liter. It is a very popular wine.

Our second wine, Nada Reserva, shows the fruit of malbec, but also some spicy notes. All the wine is aged for eight months in oak, 80% French and 20% American, with some new oak, but mostly second and third use. We never use barrels older than third use. It offers a good quality-price ratio.

Our third wine, Nada Mas, is more concentrated, more complex. It is from vineyards that are higher in altitude, which gives the wines more balance and freshness. You can really smell the spicy character that malbec from that area is known for, as well as the oak. It has concentration and really smooth tannins. It is aged 12 months in oak, all French, half first use, half second use. It recently was awarded 91 points in Wine Auditor.

Our ultra premium wine is called Muchanada. It is a blend of 70% malbec with 30% cabernet sauvignon. This is where most of the wine from our old vineyard is used. It is aged in 100% French oak – all new oak, of course – for 15 months. You can feel the power and concentration of the wine, as well as the soft tannins, but also complexity and freshness. It has 15% alcohol. The 2006 was called one of the top 10 malbecs in Argentina by Wine Amateur magazine.

What do you think of the wines?

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