Anthony Rose: 'The American critic Robert Parker called Weinert Malbec South America’s only outstanding wine'

Occasionally, a wine has an impact that takes it into the realm of legend. The 1977 Cavas de Weinert Malbec is such a wine. Three years after Juan Domingo Péron's death, the volume of cheap wine drunk in Argentina rivalled that of France and the notion of quality was as alien a concept as political stability. Made from old malbec vines, in large new oak barrels, this wine was impressively powerful. It was the creation of Raúl de la Mota, then in the twilight of an illustrious career. Born in 1918, de la Mota was strongly influenced by Bordeaux's eminent Professor Émile Peynaud after the latter's visit to Argentina for the French wine company Calvet. In the 1980s, the American critic Robert Parker called Weinert South America's only outstanding wine.

Most of the substantial quantity made, 150,000 litres, has either been blended or drunk, but last month, Raúl's son Roberto brought one of his last bottles up from the cellar. It was a bespoke bottling for the celebrated Argentinian chef, Francis Mallmann, and it came in bright green. "I hated the 7-Up green," says Roberto, who worked with his father for eight years at Weinert. "The bottler told me he'd change the colour when the wine industry bought more wine bottles than he sold 7-Up." Still very much alive, with the leathery maturity of a fine Bordeaux, it lived up to its reputation. Later bottlings are indeed dark green.

With the Arizu winery as his playground, Roberto de la Mota grew up with the scent of fermenting wine in his nostrils. He studied wine in Mendoza and France, but it was his father who "instilled in me the value of understanding the French passion for terroir and quality". The crisis of the 1980s, when some 40,000 hectares of malbec were uprooted, impelled Argentina to turn to exporting. De la Mota played his part by importing French grape varieties barely known in Argentina such as viognier, petit verdot and cabernet franc. As irrigation changed from traditional flood to modern drip, he introduced plants resistant to vineyard pests.

In 1994, Roberto went to work for Moët et Chandon's Argentinian outpost, developing a new wine, Terrazas de los Andes, based on the high altitude of their Andean vineyards. With Château Cheval Blanc's Pierre Lurton, he helped to create Cheval de los Andes, before leaving to set up his own winery, Mendel, in Mendoza's Mayor Drummond district.

"It was like a dream. I was in the vineyard and in the winery with small tanks, putting wine in barrels. No more pressure on volume – quality only." A car accident in 2007 that left him paralysed failed to dent his enthusiasm for making top-quality malbec.

Latterly, Roberto has created an approachably fresh, barbecue-friendly malbec, the 2009 Lunta, around £10, House of Townend (01482 638888), and a delightfully lemony, Graves-like dry white, the 2010 Mendel Semillon, £9.95, The Wine Society. From a vineyard planted in 1928 surrounding the winery, his signature red, the 2008 Mendel Malbec, £17.99, buy 2 = £14.99, Majestic, shows sweet black cherry aromatics and black-fruit richness moderated by a damsony bite, while the 2007, around £17.95, Jeroboams, House of Townend, is similarly dark-fruited, if softer. In its power and potential for longevity, the violet-scented and cherry-rich 2007 Mendel Unus, a malbec/cabernet sauvignon blend, £30.75, Jeroboams, is a fitting tribute to his father's inspiration.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Sudan, the last male northern white rhino
environmentThe death of a white northern rhino in Kenya has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells