Lunlunta: Historic cradle of Mendoza Malbec
Laura Catena: I love Lunlunta! Especially when you’re going down that little street around the corner you come across the Nuestra Señora del Tránsito Church, with its brick walls half-covered in ampelopsis (peppervine), which turns red and yellow in winter.
Alejandro Vigil: It’s also an area with very old vines and fairly heterogeneous soils. In Lunlunta you have two major terraces: one close to the river and one farther away. The one close to the river has much lighter soils with less clay and silt. The farther you move away from the river, the more clay there is. In 90% of the area, about a meter to a meter and half deep, you find a rocky subsoil filled with round alluvial stones.
LC: Which is why the drainage is good.
AV: There is excellent drainage until you get to the lower part of Lunlunta, where you’re in trouble because the vineyard is the same altitude as the river – meaning that the vine might have access to water two to two and a half meters below. On the other hand, in the higher parts of Lunlunta, the underground water is deeper than 80 m (260 feet).
LC: I always wonder why many of the world’s best vineyards are near rivers. I imagine it’s related to the good drainage and to the fact that dried riverbeds contain interesting mineral deposits.
AV: It’s two different things: they’ve got to be close to a river but not at the same level of the river. In fact, the cheapest wines in Burgundy, the Villages, are at the bottom where the vines have continuous access to water two meters below the surface (the river drains to the sides). In Germany, for example, the best wines come from vines located on high terraces above the river. In fact, vineyard soils are composed of materials with good drainage because they were at one time part of the river (alluvial material).
LC: Which is why our Angélica Vineyard in Lunlunta basically has loam and gravel soils with very good drainage.
LC: To me, Lunlunta is red and dark fruit on the nose, red mostly. But what I most like about Lunlunta is the smooth texture of the tannins. I think Lunlunta is very good for light Malbecs…
AV: It always makes me think of ripe plums and generous, sweet tannins… Strong wines, delicious wines with power!
LC: Yet, even if the region is warm, I’ve never felt the wines were too alcoholic.
If I had to associate a musician with the spirit of Lunlunta, it would be Amy Winehouse.
AV: Obviously, if in Lunlunta you leave the grapes on the vine for too long, you’ll get port. What’s interesting to me is maintaining the balance, getting red and dark fruit, volume in the mouth and sweetness without losing the freshness of biting into a plum; first comes the acid, immediately followed by the sweetness. If I had to associate a musician with the spirit of Lunlunta, it would be Amy Winehouse.
LC: Why do you think of Amy Winehouse for Lunlunta?
AV: Because she is hard to define, just like Lunlunta, a land of contrasts. Amy mixed a lot of jazz with elements of rock.
LC: And if Lunlunta were a work of art, what would it be? I was thinking about Las dos Fridas by Frida Kahlo, because it represents the connection between the new and the old. Lunlunta is a traditional location with many old vineyards, but the expansion of the city has made it more urban and modern.
AV: Lunlunta could also be that painting by Dali called The Persistence of Memory, which mixes time and space.
LC: The one with the drooping clocks? Of course! Dali was so Old World and so contemporary at the same time. Amy Winehouse would have liked to have been paired with him.