Vistalba is the family estate of Carlos Pulenta and his family. It is located in the center of Vistalba in the Luján de Cuyó region of Mendoza, Argentina. Here the Cordon del Plata and the towering range of snow-capped Andes that define the Mendoza loom over the Vistalba winery and the estate's vineyards, which spread up the foothills in search of the cold, living waters of snow melt that allow the Mendoza to bloom. Vistalba is the finest area in all Mendoza for Malbec, and Pulenta and his family exploit their enviable location and exceptional terroir to the fullest.
Begun in 1948, the Vistalba estate is comprised of many old vines. In total the estate counts 58 hectares (nearly 128 acres) under vine, most of which are devoted not surprisingly to Malbec — the backbone of Carlos Pulenta's fine range of wines and the mainstay of Mendoza viticulture. However, Malbec is hardly the only red varietal grown at Vistalba or, for that matter, at Pulenta's sister venture, Tomero. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Bonarda are all well represented at Vistalba. While Malbec provides the basis for all of the estate's red wines, the other red varietals play significant supporting roles.
At Vistalba, one encounters what we have come to call the A, B, C wines. Each of the wines is called Corte, meaning harvest, cutting, or cross section in Spanish, to which an A, B, or C is attached. With each of the A, B, C wines, the actual blend or cepage is likely to vary somewhat from vintage to vintage, much as the classified wines of Bordeaux alter the percentage of each varietal, depending upon the vagaries and gifts of an individual vintage. Nonetheless, Corte A is typically the fullest of the trio. A blend of 40% Malbec, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Bonarda, Corte A sports 15% alcohol and can require some time in bottle to tame its intensity. Corte B, a blend of 57% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 13% Bonarda, is another full-bodied, rather intense offering. Corte C, on the other hand, is a more refined wine that draws from the charming side of Malbec. In most vintages, Corte C is comprised of 85% Malbec and 15% Merlot, a cepage that highlights the glory of Argentine Malbec at the same time that it affords Corte C a tailored, sophisticated Bordeaux feel and style.
In addition to the Corte series of wines, Vistalba fashions several other fine offerings, including an excellent white wine from Torrontes, an Argentine specialty. Vistalba also produces Tomero, a series of traditional varietal wines that reflect the noble lightness of the melted snows that irrigate the Mendoza.
Malbec (mahl-bec) at a Glance
Malbec is one of the five classic red grapes that comprise red Bordeaux or claret. Although now relegated to a minor role in Bordeaux, Malbec or Cot as it is sometimes called remains the heart and soul as well as the brawn and brains of Cahors, the illustrious "black wine" of southwest France, a wine renowned for its power and longevity.
Malbec produces one of the deepest, most intensely hued wines in the world. Argentina is now considered to be the spiritual home of Malbec, where old vines of this premium varietal yield the finest wine that nation can produce as well as one of South America's most compelling wines.