The grapes to produce the Mendoza Tinto Altos Las Hormigas are harvested by hand and sorted twice. The Malbec and Semillon grapes are co-fermented while the Bonarda is vinified separately. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at temperatures between 24-28°C for 10 days, using only indigenous yeasts. The wine is then aged for a minimum of nine months in concrete vats before blending. The blend is both an interpretation of a classic Mendoza blend, as well as a nod to winemaker Alberto Antonini’s native Tuscany, where Chianti was often made using a small amount of white grapes in the blend.
This new wine is a blend of the three traditional Mendoza grapes, widely planted and blended before varietally labelled wines came into fashion. While Malbec and Bonarda continue to be the two most planted varieties in Mendoza, Semillon has fallen out of favour, with only 728 hectares left in 2017. In spite of this, winemaker Alberto Antonini believes Semillon is the most suitable white varietal for Mendoza, as it retains its natural acidity in the dry, sunny climate. Grapes for this wine come mainly from vineyards in Luján de Cuyo, with a small percentage coming from Medrano. The region has a semi-desert climate with hot days and cool nights. Soils in Luján de Cuyo have good water drainage and a fine silt-sandy texture. In soils such as these, vines put down deep roots, helping them resist heat waves, which are common during the summer in Mendoza. All work done in the vineyard was conducted according to biodynamic principles.
The Altos Las Hormigas Estate born when the two friends and business partners Alberto Antonini and Antonio Morescalchi were impressed by Mendoza’s vineyards on their first visit in 1995 where they purchased 206 hectares (530 acres) in the rural township of Lujan de Cuyo. Alberto and Antonio work very closely with Pedro Parra (widely regarded as the South American expert on soil and vineyard mapping) in order to identify the best locations to grow their grapes. Their never-ending experimentation and desire to produce the best wines that Argentina can offer, has made Altos Las Hormigas a Malbec specialist, with a reputation as one of the country’s top producers of this variety.