Back in 2007, we took the bold decision to buy a small vineyard in the ‘Zona Primera’ region of Luján de Cuyo in Mendoza, in a sub-region called Lunlunta. This name translates from the indigenous word for ‘song of the rolling stone’. Our first vintage was 2008.
Not just any vineyard mind. A vineyard that has its place amongst the very best of Argentina.
This vineyard was planted in 1929, in the Mendoza tradition, around the time that saw an immense number of immigrants descend on Argentina to find a good life, and in the heyday of its economic power. Olive trees at the end of vine rows, surrounded by cherry orchards and peach trees, Finca la Franca is the very essence of old world charm.
The vines are all Malbec, planted on their own roots and form a ‘massal’ selection. The vines cuttings were brought from various different nurseries so that the genetic material had a high degree of diversity.
We know that some vines will eventually give up and die. These vines can be replaced using the same old vines in the vineyard by a technique called ‘mugron’ . This involves taking the vine next to the dead vine, and placing one of the ‘arms’ of the plant into the soil, where it will grow its own root system.
After 3 years, the arm is cut from the donor vine and stands alone in its own right.
The vineyard is also certified organic by Argencert, the national organic body of Argentina. We only use goat ‘guano’ to add some fertility to these poor soils. The age of the vines means that yields are very low, with an average of one vine producing enough fruit for one bottle.
We engaged the services of winemaker Mauricio Lorca to make the wine for us, with some collaboration with Director of Wines. Mauricio has made every vintage since.
Early on, we decided to treat the ageing of the wine in four ways. A proportion without oak, to show the beauty and purity that these old vines bring to the blend. We then decided that the oak should be equal proportions of new (first use) oak, second use and third. In recent years we have decided to use some larger, 500lt barrels so that the oak integration is more harmonious.
We hope you enjoy this rare insight into how great Malbec can age. We were lucky that 2008 was such an exceptional vintage. I’m afraid, when it’s gone, it’s gone.
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