When I was in Mendoza for Laura Catena’s Malbec Camp we were clued in that Laura was working very hard on a Pinot Noir project, called Domaine Nico. The effort that the Catena’s put into making their winery a top source not just for South America, but anywhere on Earth is amazing, so when you hear that Laura is driving hard to do a Pinot campaign you know it’s going to be important. I was contacted the other day that the winemaker for Domaine Nico would be traveling in the US and hoped to come by to give me a preview tasting of the wines. In short these step into Table & Vine immediately as some of our finest Pinot Noir’s from anywhere in the World. And they are good values for the money, you can pick any $30 or $50 Pinot Noir in this store and these wines will stack up handsomely.
Roy Urvieta is a 30-year old who works for the Catena Institute, where they conduct many experiments to learn more about what they can do at their winery. One of his first and most important jobs at the Institute was to collect and sort data about Pinot Noir grown in Mendoza. I guess he must’ve done well because he was hand-picked by Laura to work on Domaine Nico.
So what do we know about the physical idea of growing Pinot Noir in Argentina?
1-They have a cool growing climate and in order to achieve a long progressive growing season they have gone up into the Andes, seeking high elevation to resist temperature spikes.
2- Much of the soil is limestone based up here, the “mother rock” of Burgundy.
3- Laura Catena has very exacting standards, she holds herself to a very high standard and demands that all who work with her try and keep up. Lombardi’s quote about “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence,” was never more appropriately applied to anyone than Laura, she is tireless in her pursuits!
Onto the wines-
Domaine Nico “Grand Mere” Pinot Noir 2017- $29.99
From a 4.9 acre parcel planted in 2013, this is one of the most exciting Pinot’s I’ve tasted in this price range this year. It may very well be our best $30 Pinot. Rich and deep with red and black cherry, silky texture and a gorgeous fruit component. This is a wine that I find along the lines of the best wines of the Cote Chalonnaise, round and bold and happily ready to drink! Limited to just 8000 bottles made, only 60 are making their way to Table & Vine. 92 points Vinous, 90 points Wine Advocate
Domaine Nico “Grand Pere” Pinot Noir 2017- $29.99
The 4.9 acre Grand Pere parcel is a bit cooler, leading to a more serious version of Pinot Noir, lighter color, but high acidity and more prominent tannin. Cranberry and citric, this is a bright red fruit wine that is just excellent. Lean because of its racy nature, not because its light, with some swirling it gets spicy and meaty. Like its wife above it’s a spectacular $30 Pinot Noir, among or very finest offerings. Limited to just 8000 bottles made, only 30 are making their way to Table & Vine. 93 points Vinous, 91 points Wine Advocate
Domaine Nico “Histoire d’A” Pinot Noir 2017- $49.99
After tasting this wine I turned to Roy and said, “Well we’ve gone to a new level.” A tiny 4.3acres gives us a Pinot Noir with a gorgeous ruby robe here, with an exhilarating floral/mineral note framing the silky fruit. Perfectly balanced, and complex with the herbal/floral thing remaining throughout the entire taste. There are some tannins here, just a subtle frame at the very end, my notes conclude with two words- Excellent and WOW! Limited to just 3000 bottles made, 24 are making their way to Table & Vine. 93 points Vinous, 92 points Wine Advocate
Domaine Nico “La Savante” Pinot Noir 2017- $49.99
From a tiny 3.5acres high in the Uco Valley comes this wine which could really only be made with a long cool growing season. Slight reduction when opened, Roy commented that this wine was built to last, with very little oxygen introduction, as you decant or swirl the wine blossoms quickly. Indeed it took about 10 minutes and then it began to really strut its stuff. The depth of character in this wine is amazing, with fruit, texture and proper structure this is a wine that immediately had me thinking about food. So many possibilities for this wine- roast poultry, Boeuf Argentinean, etc. What a wine! Limited to just 3000 bottles made, 24 are making their way to Table & Vine. 91+ points Vinous, 95 points Wine Advocate