(No, not f**k, fresh!)
As I sit here looking out of my window at the torrential rain and gale force winds whilst heroically battling the throes of a highly deadly strain of man flu (I’ll be surprised if I make it to see this article published), I look back upon my trip to Nieto in October last year.
It started in peculiar circumstances… we arrived into a chilly Mendoza evening after a short yet slightly turbulent flight across the snow-capped Andes, carrying amongst us some very fine jars of honey which had been gifted to us by the lovely people at Emiliana. Unbeknown to them, it turns out the Argentinians don’t like you bringing honey in from Chile. One by one our jars of honey were confiscated, and no doubt enjoyed by the sweet toothed group of menacing looking customs and security officers as soon as we’d stepped foot outside the airport (I’m not bitter).
“There are no over-ripe, jammy sweet bombs here, it’s more about Freshness, pronounced aromatics and an absolute purity of fruit that makes these wines a joy to drink […] Santi has no doubt taken them to the next level, but something tells me he won’t be resting on his laurels, he is something of a visionary.”
Moving on from Honeygate we headed to downtown Mendoza for dinner, which starts late, like seriously past my bedtime late. People were still heading into restaurants to sit down at 11pm, time is irrelevant in Argentina, no one is in a rush. We get introduced to Santi Mayorga, Nieto’s winemaker and one of the new pioneers emerging on the Argentinian wine scene. I say emerging, Santi’s been at Nieto for five years now and prior to that learnt his trade under the stewardship of another pioneer, Roberto de La Mota at Mendel for nigh on a decade. You only have to be in the company of Santi for a short period of time to appreciate his focus, his attention to detail and his desire to raise the bar that little bit higher. He’s a forward thinker that looks to the future whilst always keeping an eye on the past. He also has an exceptional array of cardigans.
Santi looks after the Nieto Senetiner wines as well as the Don Nicanor and Cadus ranges. Since his arrival, he’s set about a restoration of style with the wines produced five years ago tasting differently to those being currently produced. Today’s wines are Fresher with more aromatics and for those aged in oak it’s a much subtler approach. This is Santi’s style.
The next day we visited some of the vineyards that bear fruit for the Cadus Wines, as we climbed in altitude it got colder and colder until it started to snow, it was at this point you could really identify the difference that altitude makes, and its impact it has on the style of the wine. This was evident in tasting some of the Cadus wines on our final day there. There are no over-ripe, jammy sweet bombs here, it’s more about Freshness (the F word again), pronounced aromatics and an absolute purity of fruit that makes these wines a joy to drink.
I’ve long been a fan of Nieto Senetiner and to visit them out in Argentina has only reinforced my fondness for their wines. Santi has no doubt taken them to the next level, but something tells me he won’t be resting on his laurels, he is something of a visionary.
Nieto White Blend Uco Valley 2017
A fantastic new addition to the Nieto range. An un-oaked blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier and Semillon with each varietal bringing something to the party. Throwing up an ensemble of tropical notes, floral aromatics and citrus fruit that are all held together by Fresh, crisp acidity.
Cadus Chacayes Appellation Malbec 2015
From the harsh and cool surroundings of the new Los Chacayes appellation comes this exuberant Malbec. A combination of red and black fruits with hints of spice and herbal notes all wrapped up in 18 month’s worth of fine French oak that compliments the fruit character seamlessly. Pair up with a slab of steak for the perfect dinner for one.
Nieto Don Nicanor Chardonnay 2016
Named after the winery’s founder this is a top notch cool climate Chardonnay from the renowned Vista Flores region in the Uco Valley. This is what good Chardonnay should taste like. The perfect marriage of fruit, oak (10 months and French) and acidity. If the Don were alive today he’d love it.
Cadus Criolla 2017
What, you’ve never heard of Criolla?! Where have you been?! Truth is I’m guessing hardly anyone has heard of Criolla. As a grape variety it’s actually been in Argentina for quite a long time, this one comes from 70-year-old vines and is an absolute revelation. It’s got amazing aromatics with crushed red fruit and wonderful crunchy acidity. Think somewhere between Gamay and Cinsault.