“Like a Pauillac on Steroids”
What Stephen Tanzer of Vinous said about the 2010 Viña Alicia Morena while sitting across the table from our friend importer belied its 92-point score: “It’s like a Pauillac on steroids.” Crafted by Alberto Arizu, third-generation winemaker from a founding family of Argentine icon Luigi Bosca, this high-altitude Cabernet-dominant blend has aged impeccably since the near-perfect vintage of 2010. Tanzer loved its “Tactile and highly concentrated” flavors, while James Suckling called it “rich and decadent.” Now with a bit of bottle age, showing gorgeous cedar and cigar box notes, this wine is a drink-now gem. 65 cases — of only 350 made — are up for grabs, and at $22.99 per bottle, they won’t be up long.
Alberto Arizu and his wife Alicia struck out on their own 21 years ago, but they already had a lifetime of experience: Alberto is the revered third-generation winemaker from a founding family of one of Argentina’s seminal wineries, Luigi Bosca, and Alicia herself is a 25-year viticulturalist and winemaker.
Viña Alicia’s San Alberto vineyard, almost 3,000 feet above sea level in the Lunlunta area of Luján de Cuyo, is the home of the Arizus’ experimental plantings: DRC clones, Riesling, and Albariño grow alongside the five Cabernet Sauvignon and two Cabernet Franc clones that positively thrive at the 25-acre site. The arid mountain air and soil heavy in clay and limestone make San Alberto the perfect environment for those Bordeaux varietals, which are all vinified separately using native yeast, then aged in 100% new French oak.
The “high-pitched aromas of black fruits, violet and licorice” that Tanzer praised are now accented by generous cedar and cigar-box notes, making his likening the Morena to “Pauillac on steroids” even more on the money. But their production level is Burgundian: Only 350 cases were produced, and only 65 of those are Wine Access-bound.