Blowing in the wind. The vines of the Eolo vineyard feel the force of three winds: Polar, Zonda and the Sudestada. Fittingly named for Greek mythology’s Aeolus, keeper of the wind, this small parcel (~10 acres) is home to old vine Malbec, which survived despite the variety falling out of favor for many years. Planted in 1912, these vines have felt the winds blow for more than 100 years.
Situated on the north bank of the Mendoza River, 3,225 feet above sea level, the vineyard is located within the vaunted Luján de Cuyo appellation, which is especially known for high quality Malbec production. Recognizing the potential of this land and its many attributes, Bodega Trivento sought to produce a super-premium reserve wine here in 2005.
Joining the project early on was Victoria Prandina who began her career with Trivento in 2006, helping alongside Enrique Tirado to make this wine. Working her way up the ladder, Victoria next served as assistant winemaker for Trivento’s Reserve wines for several years before returning to the Eolo project as its head winemaker in 2010.
Carefully crafted, the grapes for Eolo are manually harvested and inspected on not one, but two sorting tables to ensure that only the very best fruit makes its way into the wine. Fermentation and aging are generally identical from year to year, with the wine spending 18 months in French oak barrels (70% of which are new) before being bottled. An additional year of bottle age is mandated before release.
However, despite these similarities in the winery, each vintage is unique with its varying weather conditions and the wine’s varying grape compositions; some years the wine is 100% Malbec, while in others, it is blended with Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Petit Verdot.
Admittedly, all of this time and effort comes with a price; Eolo sells for $79.00/bottle. But, also true, the result is no ordinary Malbec. Overall, Eolo is an extremely elegant expression of Malbec and, as an ageworthy wine, can be cellared up to 15 years. A vertical tasting of the 2005-2010 vintages showed its complexity and development.
All of the wines were pleasurable, but my favorites of the six available vintages were the 2007 and 2009, both of which were produced solely with Malbec. All were still lively in acidity and youthful in their fruit concentration. In comparison to the more recent vintages, the older wines clearly displayed how the tannins soften and the oak becomes more integrated with time.
- 2005 – Very refreshing on the palate, with fine-grained tannins and intense black fruit (Victoria described it as “explosive”); well integrated oak.
- 2006 – Distinctly spicy with Cayenne pepper and cinnamon; less fresh, but with more polished tannins and a fruitier character than 2005.
- 2007 – Displaying a nice herbal character that the others didn’t have, the wine was well balanced in both its structural elements as well as its aromas and flavors, yielding a very beautiful wine.
- 2008 – The 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petit Verdot were noticeable on this wine, which was quite powerful and very structured with firm tannins, yet still fresh.
- 2009 – Showing the most floral character and lots of red fruit (coupled with black fruit), this was again a very well balanced wine.
- 2010 – A bit closed at this stage of its development, the wine was elegant with spice and oak layered with the black fruit.
Despite high alcohol levels and intense fruit, Eolo is a food friendly wine that can be enjoyed with a meal and not overpower it. Moreover, you are not just limited to a churrascaria or typical steakhouse – pan seared scallops with crispy Serrano ham and patata bravas were equally well matched with the wines.