2017 Altos Las Hormigas Malbec Gualtallary (750ml)

Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina

B-21 Top Recommendation
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Ironically the great terrains of the vine are adverse to grape production. That swaths of Chateauneuf du Pape are planted in a bed of old river (Rhone River) stone flouts the mind. Much of Spain’s Priorat vines are planted on vertiginously steep, ancient terraced slopes of decomposed slate. A winery guide on the touristic Island of Santorini would point out vines planted in granite rock with its vine trellised in cirlces around the grape cluster to protect the fruit from the wind. Maybe the most remarkable, extreme vines exist on Lanzarote, Canary Islands. Indeed extreme is the standard here. The world’s most challenging Ironman Race takes place on Lanzarote each May. Volcanic activity have challenged the vignerons here, meters of volcanic ash sitting atop the island force them to burrow down to the “top soil’ where the vine is planted. The landscape looks black-lunar, worthy of your Google Earth.

In Argentina at elevations of five thousand feet is the deserted region of Tupungato. Here in the foothills of the Andes defines the elevation limits of vines as Mt. Tupungato volcano soars in the vista to 22,000 feet. At the north end of the Uco Valley lies Tupungato. Within the region of Tupungato is coveted Gualtallary where Some argue the best wines of Argentina call home. Clearly the altitude and exposition play a key roll here as does the diurnal temperature swings of 20 degrees or more in a cool climate. What makes Gualtallary truly unique is the soils. Poor soils - adverse to grape production. Limestone stressed vine in vigor and yields, in effect a more concentrated wine. Alluvial soils of sand and stone force the vine to seek more nutrients. Wines of Gualtallary have great concentration but also freshness coming from limestone acidity and elevation.

What also needs to be said is the value Altos Los Hormigas delivers (probably not for long). When compared to other Gualtallary wines on the market fetching $80 and up such as Zuccardi, Catena Zapata... this is seriously undervalued and scores in the same league.


After some ups and downs in past vintages, the 2017 Malbec Appellation Gualtallary is every bit as good as the already superb 2017. It's expressive, mineral and vertical, austere, like biting into chalk. It's produced with grapes from a rented plot in a somewhat fashionable appellation that is quite large and diverse. The palate is super austere, dry, serious and mineral, while the nose is expressive and has the wilderness of the place with unusual elegance and freshness for a year like 2017. It finishes long and tasty, with some violets. Could this be their best Gualtallary to date?

96+ points, Luis Gutiérrez, Wine Advocate (Issue # 245 - Oct 2019)

Alcohol By Volume: 13.5%
1 bottle in stock. Ships in 1 to 2 business days.

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