Winemaker Patrick Campbell, from Laurel Glen Vineyards, built his reputation on powerful Cabernet Sauvignons from his original vineyard on Sonoma Mountain in California. Campbell came to wine unconventionally, with a liberal arts education, rather than more "relevant" studies in enology or viticulture, but after starting Laurel Glen in 1977, he became impressively adept at crafting traditional, non-interventionist wines with great cellaring potential.
Like a number of other successful California winemakers, Campbell recognized the potential of Malbec in Argentina, and he began travelling to the high altitude vineyards in Mendoza to lend his expertise to the production of these wines. Campbell has worked with vineyards in Mendoza's two primary growing regions, Lujan in the north and Valle de Uco in the south. But after making five trips a year to Argentina for half a decade, he has acquired a fondness for the remote, far southern reaches of the Valle de Uco.
Here, 120 kilometers south of the city of Mendoza, soil gradually dissipates as the terrain changes to unplanted high plains that extends down to Patagonia. Right on the margins between soil and barren land sits the San Carlos Vineyard, the source of impressively dark, powerful and structured fruit. Twelve kilometers north of here is the La Consulta Vineyard, source of a softer and rounder, yet equally complex wine. These sites are both home to old vines, first planted in the 1930s to a low yielding, small-leaf clone of Malbec.
The Vineyards of Mendoza
The 2006 Tierra Divina is a blend of wines from these two sustainably farmed vineyards. The outcome is very dark in color, with ripe, dense plum and cassis fruit flavors. Expect a beautiful, lingering finish on the palate. Like the best Malbecs, its power is tempered by a haunting lightness in the mouth.
Try this wine with braised beef short ribs, or follow the Argentines, and serve it with steak.