Ribera del Cuarzo
Patagonia – Rio Negro – Valle Azul
A family-inspired story that began when Felipe Menendez's great-grandfather planted his first vineyard in 1883. A descendant of Melchor Concha y Toro, he spent his summers in Pirque, Chile, among the vineyards of Patagonia, lending to his love for wine and the area. He was trained by Dr. Nicolas Catena Zapata, who also hired promising enology graduate Ernesto Bajda. They worked together for 12 years at Catena Zapata, becoming close colleagues and dear friends. Felipe decided to commit to his vision of creating a winery in the vast, remote, and unique Patagonian terroir. He traveled on a decade-long quest, searching for the perfect location to craft a distinctive wine. In 2018, Felipe acquired land from the Italian Countess Noemí Marone Cinzano.
Today, Ernesto oversees winemaking at Ribera del Cuarzo and Cuchillo de Palo, and in 2023, he was named Master Winemaker of the Year for Malbec by Drinks Business.
The Meaning of Ribera del Cuarzo
The soil along the southern bank of the Rio Negro sparkles as a result of an unusual geological process. When the rain pours down, the nearby ravines and gullies overflow, transporting the quartz onto the river terraces known as Barda. True to Patagonia weather, the winds then cover the base of the Barda in a fine layer of quartz dust generated by friction with other rocks. The winery is situated precisely where the soils exhibit their brightest shine. Referred to locally as Ribera del Cuarzo (The Quartz Shore), it is a tribute to this unique natural wonder.
Altitude 755 Feet
Among all the wineries in the region, Ribera del Cuarzo's vineyard is the closest to the Barda. The Barda river terrace texture is created by the presence of quartz mixed with calcium carbonate, eroding into the soil and adding to the character of the grapes. The sandy loam soil is composed of volcanic ash and shaped by wind erosion, known as aeolian.
Patagonia is the coldest region in Argentina. Valle Azul, a continental desert, experiences warm, bright days and cold nights with persistent winds.
Ribera del Cuarzo CLASICO 2021
This wine showcases an interpretation of the classic Rio Negro Valley alluvial soils. Its grapes come from 8 vineyards of 40 year-old vines located along the both sides of the river.
Deep red with ruby highlights, this Malbec delivers intense aromas of black fruits with smoky and menthol notes. On the palate, it is fruity and mineral with a persistent finish.
93 Points - Tim Atkin
Ribera del Cuarzo ESPECIAL 2020
A combination of the Patagonian climate and sandy loam soils of aeolian and volcanic origin creates challenging conditions for plants. The vineyard that gives rise to ESPECIAL presents unique characteristics that are difficult to find in other terroirs. Calcareous soils, cool nights, and constant wind subject the 22 year-old vines to constant stress. As a result, vines grow grapes of remarkable concentration and pronounced natural acidity.
Intense color, blue-violet tones. Aromas of red fruits and ripe berries that combine and integrate with vanilla and caramel from the wood provide density and persistence. Remarkable freshness, given its natural acidity and smoothness resulting from the concentration of Malbec and its passage through wood.
94 Points - Tim Atkin
Ribera del Cuarzo RESERVA ESTIBADA 2020
RESERVA ESTIBADA is a barrel blend. Barrels are selected that exhibit the greatest elegance from wines in the Southern section of the vineyard, where the vineyard's higher limestone content results in increased power and expression.
A wine filled with aromas of red and black fruits, such as cherries and blackberries. Fruity, spicy, and floral, resulting from each varietal's contribution to the blend, their combination exhibiting a beautiful, flavorful complexity.
93 Points - Tim Atkin