I first started my adventures in Mendoza in 1992, when I was still the winemaker at Simi Winery.
Simi’s parent company invited me to be a part of a new project called Terrazus de los Andes, in Mendoza.
The main focus of Terrazus was to make great Malbecs and Cabernets from Vistalba. This is a sub appellation of the central valley in Mendoza. The central valley in Mendoza has some of the best soils I’ve ever come across. The appellations here include Lujan de Cuyo, Lunlunta, Agrelo, Pedregal, and Compuertas to name a few.
At that time we were also planting a new area in the Uco valley called Tupungato. Tupungato is located at the foot of the Andes, and is known both for its high altitude and the Tunuyán River that flows from Mount Tupungato to the northeast and past the city of Tunuyán.
At the time, there were many older vineyards, but very little in the way of new or recent vineyard development. The region was difficult to get to, there wasn’t a ready supply of skilled and qualified labor, and the roads were poor. It took us about three hours to get to the vineyards from the main city. But I could see the potential of this region and the uniqueness of the terroir here even then.
From 2002, when I left the Terrazus project, until 2015, I consulted for some really good producers in this region and got to really know the local culture.
In 2015 I began my own project (and label) here, called Chacras. Chacras means ‘old farmhouse’ and is also the name of a town in Mendoza where all of the winemakers in the region live. I feel Chacras is a little bit similar to Healdsburg in this way. The ‘wine country’ vibe and concentration of winery owners and winemakers that live here make it feel like home. But… in Chacras you have a restaurant, a bar, and a butcher shop instead of a restaurant, bars, and tasting rooms. It’s less touristically developed, but it is the heart of this unique wine country.
On Saturdays in the summer I love sitting on in the corner in Chacras at my favorite coffee shop talking to local winemakers. In town, we’re located about 20 minutes from Mendoza and about an hour from the vineyard where we source the grapes for our Chacras wine.
The vineyard that we use for our Chacras malbec is shared with another wine that we produce called Pedrusco. The difference between the two wines is that Pedrusco comes from vines that are well over 80 years old and that produce only two to three clusters per vine. Whereas, with the Chacras fruit, we have a bit younger vines (50 years), that produce more fruit, but that are still farmed organically and have relatively low yields due to the high altitude.
The altitude is of course, one of the most interesting things about this region. At high-altitude we can make cool climate wines, even when we are in a region located in a traditionally warm regions due to the lower temperatures and higher winds at high altitudes.
What I love about cool climate Malbec is that we get violets and red cherry flavor profiles, plus great acidity. Wines are lush with a long finish and deep character and layers.
I love to share these wines with people.
Notes on the Chacras Malbec:
-100% Malbec. *No Bonarda or Cot (which is usually blended into Malbecs)
-Single vineyard-while still very budget friendly ($25/bottle)
-Only 800 cases made