Roberto Cipresso strikes again in Altamira
Iluminado by Vinos de la Luz gets 97 points from Decanter and we bring you the full story of Roberto Cipresso with Paraje Altamira.
Italy and Argentina share a special bond. The waves of immigration that arose especially in the first half of the 20th century gave a new demographic structure to the South American country and a union between the two cultures that will continue to be linked for a long time. Large families, family Sundays, pasta, warmth and effusiveness, are just a few examples. And the wine, of course.
That probably made Roberto Cipresso feel that Argentina was his second home. And what a mark he has left on the history of the country, or at least, the history of its wines.
At the end of the last century, in 1999, it was him who, together with Santiago Achaval, discovered – in the most literal sense of the word – Finca Altamira, in what is now called Paraje Altamira. An abandoned vineyard, with pigs among the vines eating grapes, but with such potential in its berries that made him cry. They bought the vineyard, harvested immediately the grapes that barely survived, and transformed the pork’s food into a 5-star Decanter wine. The state of survival, of extreme difficulty, that the plant lived, showed all the expression that the area could drive through Malbec. The history of the place changed forever.
But why do we tell this story right now?
Roberto left the Achaval-Ferrer project, as well as its founders, some years ago. The Italian winemaker continued his task in Argentine soil in Matervini, the new adventure that unites him with Santiago, and also in Vinos de la Luz, a group of wineries that seeks to make wines of excellence around the world. And it is in the framework of this last project that Roberto Cipresso returned to gain international critics’ favor with his great ally, the soil of Altamira. Decanter awarded “Iluminado” with 97 points and placed it among the best 50 wines in the world, being the only Argentinian wine in this select group.
What is Iluminado?
(Roberto) Iluminado is the high-end tier of La Luz, in this case, one of the five that compose it. They are wines conceived from high places which are a strong authority in the wine world, closer to the sunlight. La Consulta, Montalcino, Rivera del Duero, Santa Bárbara, and, still in process, Georgia, in the area of the Tbilisi. The idea is to look for the identity of the place, the terroir. The unique expression of the landscape, where the vineyard is born. High old vines, great temperature amplitude, and great character. And Altamira is all that and more.
Why this success in such a short time at Vinos de La Luz?
(Roberto) The experience in Altamira had already led me to an extraordinary result with Achaval-Ferrer, where we recovered abandoned vineyards, and we could give identity and expression to a wine that thrilled the world. Nowadays it is very common to see wines from Paraje Altamira, but at that time it was rather inhospitable. This time we had gone through the learning process, so we were able to quickly interpret what the soil of that vineyard could give. The important thing is to understand how Malbec behaves in these miraculous areas, and the nobility it can have since it leaves the main scenario and it allows the terroir to speak through it. Altamira and Malbec are an unbeatable formula.
What makes Altamira one-of-a-kind?
(Roberto) Geologically it has no uniqueness, it has something that can be found in other areas. Now, at a pedological level, we can find a unique combination. A percentage of high clay, a more active dynamic, less sand… The plant is vibrant, it beats. The temperature amplitude is key too. And old vineyard… It is a spectacular combo. The slope to the north of the vineyard is another contribution, which is precisely looking for a higher point of light. It is magic. The area has a lot of virtues, but the whole is greater than what one can explain. It is like it had a little bit of magic, a little bit of something we still are not able to understand.
What differences do you find between Finca Altamira and Iluminado?
(Roberto) They are two different concepts. Finca Altamira was a discovery, a treasure hunt with a happy ending: there was gold in the river. In the case of Iluminado, it was a step without suspicion, a legendary project that is replicated with another kind of deepness, a special character. Iluminado has just been born… it has a long journey to go and the start was amazing.
What are you looking for to get in Callejón del Crimen’s portfolio?
The wines of Callejón are from Vista Flores, where the soil is more sandy, which might be read as a limit. But what we look for in them is satisfaction, immediate pleasure, so it is not a limit. Here, the concept of the varietal is purer, there is no influence from the area or just a little bit. Since there is not a defined terroir, it allows the purest expression of Malbec and the other varietals. We have received fantastic feedback. There is so much to do yet, it is an open path of discovery. We are doing different things that will help us to glimpse new paths… Dissociated fermentation, conical oak tub, fermentation with a lot of oxygen. We are exploring the maximum variety applied to grapes, not to the terroir. A diametrically opposed concept to Iluminado.
“The wine that excites is always right because it is unique. It is a new and unique truth. When a wine gives you goosebumps, it is bottled poetry”.
Roberto Cipresso, native from Bassano del Grappa, starts his winemaking career in 1987 in Montalcino, where he settles and starts working for some well-known wine producers like Case Basse, Poggio Antico, and Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona. He extends his activity and collaborates with prestigious companies in Tuscany and across the most important regions in the territory thanks to his successful personal achievements. In 1999 Roberto Cipresso founded Winemaking, a group of agronomic and oenologic consultancy that today counts with a team of selected technicians that work for more than thirty companies throughout the Italian territory.
His carrier counts with collaborations with foreigner companies such as the prestigious Achaval-Ferrer Winery – in the past – and Matervini in Argentina, and the project Bueno Bellavista in Brasil. Recently he started a new collaboration with Vinos de la Luz in Argentina and Spain, fulfilling his dream of working with the Tempranillo variety.