Rocamadre Criolla 2019
Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina
Criolla Chica & Criolla Grande
Winemaker Juanfa Suaréz's grandfather Leopoldo established the family finca in Paraje Altamira in 1920. It was very experimental for its time, much like the current generation.
Alongside Finca Suaréz, Rocamadre is Juanfa's pet project exploring the capabilities of this prized region through natural wine.
Paraje Altamira underwent a rapid transition from just a place people spoke highly of but which lacked formal definition, to an established 'appellation' in Argentina, only becoming so as recently as 2016. It's in the southern Uco Valley of Mendoza at high altitudes of course, roughly 1,000 metres above sea level. It is unique among Argentine appellations in being founded along scientific, geological principles rather than geopolitics. It is also typified by smaller farms in the hands of families who have been here for generations.
This is a very light red wine with an exciting idea behind it: elevate traditionally 'ordinary' local grapes to something exceptional. It's a field blend of Criolla Chica and Criolla Grande from an 80-year-old vineyard on alluvial soil at 1,100 metres.
Criolla Grande is believed to be native to Argentina. It is pink-skinned (like Pinot Gris) and the third most planted grape variety in Argentina (after Cereza and Malbec). It's used mainly for cheaper rosé and white wines, often in cardboard cartons. So to make a wine as striking as this with it is quite a statement.
Criolla Chica is a dark-skinned Spanish variety also known as Listán Prieto in its homeland (where it was wiped out by phylloxera), Mission in California and País in Chile, where it's the second most planted variety after Cabernet Sauvignon. In Argentina it's also generally used to make rosé.
This is very light but has a powerful presence. An immediate hit of bright red fruits, especially cherries, turns into spice and a lovely texture belying the wine's paleness.