Founded in 1885, Rutini is a winery steeped in tradition but also at the forefront of the dynamic wine scene in Mendoza’s Uco Valley. The identity of Rutini today is synonymous with both tradition and innovation. One tradition that reigns strong in Rutini is the art of blending, although the approach has transformed over the years. ‘Our blending has changed as our knowledge of the micro-terroirs of Mendoza has evolved,’ explains Winemaking Director Mariano Di Paola, who is celebrating his 30th vintage at Rutini this year. ‘The panorama is much wider each year, with so many options to choose from, as we separate soil types, climates, varieties and vinification methods.’
A gift to the family
Today Rutini’s state-of-the-art winery in Gualtallary is a true playground of oenology — filled with different-shaped vats, vessels and barrels. But the modern incarnation of Rutini’s premium blends began in a far more humble fashion in 1997 – and rather unintentionally. ‘I have a very large family with 15 brothers and sisters, and I decided to make a special wine for my family for the turn of the millennium,’ recalls Di Paola. ‘I set aside a couple barrels of a blend I made with Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.’ The excitement and appreciation of all those who tasted the wine, however, forced Di Paola to release the blend commercially rather than keeping it as a family celebratory secret.
That first selection of barrels, bottled as Apartado, was launched in 2000 and was a sensation. Ever-changing blends Apartado, meaning ‘set aside’, has become an iconic wine in Argentina. The red blend changes each year, and is now joined by an Apartado Gran Chardonnay and Gran Malbec. Di Paola says that blending is very much at the heart of both singlevarietal wines too: ‘We have at least ten different components that go into our Apartado Gran Malbec!’
For Apartado, as with the excellent value Encuentro line, Di Paola weaves together wines made from different plots and in different vessels to create unique expressions of each. Perhaps the pinnacle of his artful blends, though, is the Antología line. ‘These are unrepeatable wines; they are wines to surprise you, and no edition is ever the same,’ says Di Paola.
The current release, Antología No 51, is a blend of Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Viognier from the 2017 vintage. Although unorthodox, the result is glorious — elegant, layered and with tannins that are beautifully resolved following several years in bottle. The patience necessary to release wines with bottle age is also part of Rutini’s ethos, but Di Paola insists that it is never pre-prescribed. Like the blending, it is based on experience and intuition: ‘Each wine is unique, that’s what’s beautiful about it — you really have to feel the wine, which is why I do believe blending is not a science but art.’ It is most certainly an art that Rutini is a master of.