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Wine Legend: Weinert, Malbec Estrella, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza 1977

Weinert, Malbec Estrella 1977 is a  legend because…

This was a wine from only the second vintage produced at this estate, and spent an astonishing 19 years in casks before being bottled and released. It was one of the first pure Malbecs to be presented internationally as a fine wine, helping to establish it as Argentina’s signature variety. The next Estrella Malbec would not be made until 1994 and, like its successors, was a selection of the very finest casks of wine. A few bottles of the 1977 Estrella remain in the Weinert cellars.

Looking back

Brazilian-born Bernardo Weinert bought a ruinous 19th-century winery in 1975, having previously made an extended study of soils and vines in the Mendoza area, and, after renovating the winery, he produced his first wines two years later. The winemaker then and for the next 20 years was Raúl de la Mota. From the outset, Estrella (meaning ‘star’) was the top wine from Weinert, showcasing the estate’s finest singlevarietal Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, depending on the year.

The vintage

Little is recorded about the climatic conditions in 1977, but construction work at the winery delayed the harvest, so the Malbec was picked at riper levels than was usual at the time.

The terroir

The Weinert vineyards are mainly in Luján de Cuyo and also in the higher sections of Maipú. There are 40ha here as well as a further 20ha in Patagonia. The elevation in Luján de Cuyo ranges from 850m to 1,100m, and the soils are rocky and sandy, although deep silt soils are preferred for Malbec. The vineyards drain well, although rainfall is low at 240mm and is amplified by flood irrigation. In 1977, however, most of the grapes were purchased, and those used for Estrella were more than 50 years old.

The wine

After a manual harvest the grapes are destemmed and fermented in concrete vats for up to nine days without prolonged maceration. For the first winter the wine stays on its fine lees. Weinert always ages its wines for a minimum of two years in underground cellars, but this 1977 is unusual in having spent 19 years in casks of 2,500 to 6,000 litres. For more than a year, Bernardo Weinert and current winemaker Hubert Weber taste various casks and make up the final blend before bottling.

The reaction

Decanter’s Anthony Rose tasted one of the surviving bottles at the winery in 2011, noting ‘Still very much alive, with the leathery maturity of a fine Bordeaux.’

The facts

Bottles produced 30,000
Composition 100% Malbec
Yield 2hl/ha
Alcohol content 15%
Release price $25 US
Price today £476

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