The Vault is Open! Pinot Noir, La Savante by Domaine Nico | 2017
As Burgundy lovers, we tend to put "New World" Pinot Noir in box — a box of wine that tastes more fruity, sometimes more candied, and tends to fall short of that magical brushstroke of minerality. Whether these wines are from California, the backroads of Australia, or the fringes of Chile, we put them there, open them from time to time, and usually say, "That's pretty good." Enter Laura Catena.
Domaine Nico is a new project from one of the industry's most fascinating and hard-working personalities, Laura Catena. A practicing physician and an author (with Harvard and Stanford degrees), Laura Catena is a fourth-generation Argentine vintner. As director of Bodega Catena Zapata and her own winery, Luca, as well as a founder of Mendoza's research center, The Catena Institute, it's hard to wrap your brain around the brilliance of Laura Catena. So when I heard about her new project, I thought, "Are you serious?"
It's impressive, enough, that Laura Catena created Domaine Nico, but what's truly inspiring is that these wines are in a precious box of their own. Considered the world's "first extreme high-altitude parcela Pinot Noirs" sourced from limestone and alluvial soils, Domaine Nico is Laura Catena's love letter to France. A certified Francophile, she fell in love with Pinot Noir during her first travels to France as a teenager. The "Savante" bottling is one of five in the collection and with its feminine tense refers to a lady scholar, who, like wine, can be "feminine and serious at the same time."
The Pinot Noir sourced for La Savante grows in Mendoza's most dramatic landscape at 4,800ft — the towering vineyards of Gualtallary, a famous sub-region within the Tupungato department of the Uco Valley. Using partial whole-cluster fermentation, the wine follows a classic recipe in the cellar, fermented in steel and aged in French oak (about 20% new). At 13% alcohol, it has just enough weight on the palate with high-toned satin fruits, fall spice, and refined zips of acidity and minerality. Hands-down, one of the best Pinot Noirs, Burgundy included, that we've enjoyed this year. So, hats-off to Laura Catena, the "Savantes" and lady scholars, and all the incredible RBGs out there!
Region: Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina
Tasting Notes: Dark strawberry, fall spice, petrichor and plum
Pair with: Macchialina's Pollo Arrosto
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