2016 Bodega Norton Lote Negro Unique Edition Malbec/Cabernet Franc

Year: 2016
Appellation: Valle de Uco, Mendoza
Country: Argentina
Wine Spectator: 90
Wine Advocate: 93+
Vinous Media: 92
James Suckling: 93
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 14.0%
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"A fleshy red, with a deep well of dark fruit and bittersweet chocolate flavors, turning creamy midpalate. Asian spice and mocha accents linger on the rich finish. Drink now through 2020. 1,000 cases made. –KM " (WS)

"The first wine produced exclusively with grapes from the Valle de Uco is now in its second vintage, the 2016 Lote Negro has a very classical profile and is a blend of Malbec from Chacayes with some 40% Cabernet Franc from Los Árboles. It fermented in concrete vats and matured in barriques for 12 months. It has somewhat of a peachy nose, with great freshness, hints of blood oranges and spices, aromatic and balsamic, open, clean, subtle and complex. It has a medium-bodied palate and a textured mouthfeel, with fine tannins and a long, dry finish. 15,000 bottles were filled in March 2017.

Norton has five vineyards and around 180 growers that supply grapes. Under the guidance of technical director David Bonomi, they are looking at the soils of the different vineyards in an attempt to separate them for different ranges of wines, and they are also using smaller fermentation vessels for the different profiles of vineyards and wines. Other than that, they have some 11,000 bottles of old vintages, going back to the 1940s, which is unique in Argentina, like a living memory of the wines from the past.

When it comes to the current wines, they are working to produce wines with less oak and better freshness, in search of the wine from the specific places rather than blends from different wines. This started with the whites in 2015 and the reds in 2016. As I've seen in many other wineries, they have a tendency to use more grapes from the Valle de Uco in the more expensive ranges. More changes and wines will come, as I even previewed their first Malbec from Gualtallary from the 2017 vintage." (WA)

"(14% alcohol; aged for 14 months in second-use French oak barrels; from a reported crop level of 3.5 tons per acre): Dark ruby-red. Complex nose melds aromas of cassis, blackberry, cocoa powder, tobacco leaf, chocolate and herbs; both the Malbec and Cab Franc elements are apparent today. Quite suave and smooth in the mouth, with its highly concentrated black fruit flavors complicated by herbs, spices and dark chocolate. Boasts lovely inner-mouth aromatic lift and precision and finishes classically dry and sophisticated, with fine-grained tannins and steadily building length. An excellent showing." (VM)

"Sliced strawberries, blueberries, plums and tobacco leaves. Medium to full body, round and polished tannins with a clear and precise vibrant finish. A blend of malbec and cabernet franc. Drink now or hold." (JS)