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Vicien, Malbec, Catamarca, 2014
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One of our best-selling wines. The estate Malbec is unoaked, a pure expression of the grape. Pretty, lifted scent of wild strawberries. Deliciously red-fruited (Carlos Arizu says this is characteristic of Malbec grown at high altitude), perfectly supple, with just a hint of savouriness and tannin. Wonderful texture distinguishes it at this price. Now-2019
The Vicien estate lies in the remote and arid highlands of Catamarca, in Argentina’s wild north-west, with vineyards over 5,000 feet up on the edge of the Andes. In 2000 Carlos Arizu, with other investors, bought the large Las Retamas estate, including some existing plantings of very old vines. From the start the aim was to produce wines using organic viticulture: there are no fungal diseases in these dry conditions, and no insect pests live at this altitude.
There is very much a house style here, which derives in part from the high altitude conditions: very long hours of sunshine and dramatic diurnal changes of temperature give thicker skins, and these in turn contribute to the very deep colour; lovely lifted scents, very floral and appealing; and very ripe fruit. But they don’t lack substance either, and with smooth ripe fruit tannins they make very good food wines.