Last week, we were hosted at Clos de los Siete for a tasting and lunch with Michel Rolland.
I have had the chance to visit Clos de los Siete several times and I have to confess that every time I go, the greatness of the landscape and the stunning investment in these vineyards and wineries makes me think in the important role that Valle de Uco plays in this emerging history of Argentine world-class wines.
Michel Rolland is an influential Bordeaux-based oenologist, with hundreds of clients across 13 countries and influencing wine style around the world. His signature style, which he helps wineries achieve, is fruit-heavy and oak-influenced, a preference shared by influential critic Robert Parker.
Clos de los Siete in TunuyÃ¡n, Valle de Uco is an ambitious project which comprises five state of the art wineries, up to 2,000 acres of vineyards, $60 million in investment, all of which aim producing some of Argentina's greatest wines.
Ramiro (wine server at The Vines Tasting Room), Michel Rolland and Mariana
My question was very simpleâ€¦ Why Valle de Uco?
Michel explains that it was not an easy task to choose the land that could host this ambitious project. He was looking for a special terroir outside of Europe to produce â€œgrand vinâ€. In 1994, Michel found this property in Vista Flores, 60 miles south of the city of Mendoza. It was just virgin land, without electricity or a road nearby. It was a field hidden in the middle of vast Argentine at the foot of the majestic Andes. Michel assures he can still feel the energy of the place and his instinct telling him that THAT was the place!
Quality wines, says Rolland, would come from the poorer soils closer to the Andes range, at around 3,300 feet of altitude. Being closer to the mountains would also provide some protection against the devastating hailstorms which are frequent in some regions of Mendoza. The area is also privileged by long sunlight hours favoring ripening. Besides, a wider temperature range between day and night would favor polyphenols concentration. â€œThis virgin land definitely met the criteriaâ€.
Michel not only convinced some of the most important wine businessmen from Bordeaux about the potential of the area, but he is also among the pioneers to invest in the most promising wine region of Argentina in the last decade. His vision and knowledge has inspired many new projects and has attracted investors from all over the world.
Michel continues to believe in the great quality of wines of the area and that is why he is already planning the fifth winery within the project: this time Michelâ€™s own winery. There he will continue to make his Mariflor wines ( so farÂ Sauvignon Blanc and Â pinot Noir) and Val de Flores.
Talking about varietals, Michel is clear: â€œMALBEC is the best grape we can grow in Argentinaâ€ Yet, he explains that he believes they can make great wines out of other varietals such as: Syrah, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Merlot among the reds and Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc among the whites.
As you may know, Michel is a really controversial characterâ€¦ he has been criticized along the world being accused of driving out the individuality and local essence of wines (e.g. terroir).
Yet, to me, there is no doubt that Rolland has worked hard in studying the history of how great wines are made. Terroir is a concept he has analyzed carefully in each place he works. His vision and knowledge has helped him succeed worldwide. You may like or not his styleâ€¦ but he does have a style.
I am just a wine lover and I evaluate wine beyond its brand or its winemaker. WINE is the essenceâ€¦ if you enjoy it then it is a GREAT WINE.
Read more about the Project