Bodega Piedra Negra
After searching extensively across several regions of Argentina, François Lurton planted his vineyard at high altitude in the Uco Valley, in the foothills of the Andes Cordillera, in semi-desert conditions (the poor, gravelly soil is reminiscent of Pessac-Léognan!).
This unexplored region is known as Chacayes, the name that François later gave to the property's finest wine.
A pioneer of the Uco Valley, he built his winery, Bodega Piedra Negra, in the heart of 200 hectares of virgin land. Drawing on expertise acquired all over the world, he immediately introduced environmentally-friendly winegrowing methods.
Uco Valley : an unforgettable terroir
This choice of location and vineyard management has proved to be excellent. Thanks to the microclimate of this high altitude desert, with very well-drained, relatively infertile, alluvial gravel soil, the wines of the Uco Valley, and especially those of Chacayes, have a unique personality, which combines freshness and concentration.
Today, the Uco Valley has a reputation as one of the world's top wine regions and is, according to Tim Atkin of Decanter Magazine, without doubt "the most talked about wine region in Argentina, if not in all South America".
Located in the foothills of the Andes Cordillera, we are developing wine tourism at the property in response to the growing number of fans of Uco Valley wines. Visitors can tour the vines on horseback and appreciate the natural biodiversity helped by our environmentally-friendly practices. The Uco Valley lies 80 km south of the city of Mendoza, alongside the legendary route 40 that follows the Cordillera the entire length of the country.
The Uco Valley is known for its rich, deep agricultural soil, its villages, farms and long rows of poplars, whose foliage forms a protective screen, and plots perched high in the foothills of the Cordillera mountains, at an altitude of more than 1,100 metres. Rivers flowing down the Andes Cordillera have formed alluvial soils of volcanic and granitic gravel, adding the rigours of poor, well-drained soil to the altitude and aridity. Francois Lurton was the first to venture onto the heights of Chacayes, somehow knowing that this inhospitable, desert-like landscape had the potential to be a great terroir.
The Bodega Piedra Negra vineyard is located in the Geographical Indication of Los Chacayes, one of the most prestigious appellations in the Uco Valley, to the south of the city of Mendoza. Our property, Finca Los Chacayes, is located in the foothills of the Cordillera at an altitude of 1,100 m in poor soil that consists mainly of alluvial gravel.
The climate is continental: hot and dry in the summer, cool and wet in the winter. Since the annual rainfall is less than 300 mm, it is necessary to provide water with a drip-irrigation system. The altitude and the continental, semi-desert climate create a substantial difference between day and night-time temperatures, further adding to the rigours of this already extreme terroir. It is not uncommon for temperatures to go down to 5 to 10°C at night, and then rise to 30 to 35°C the following day.
The threat of hail is a major problem, and so the entire vineyard is protected by anti-hail nets.
The vines are planted on rootstock to avoid the risk of phylloxera and control their vigorous nature. High planting density (4,500 vines/ha) and close pruning enable low yields from each vine. In this semi-desert environment, irrigation is necessary so that the vines suffer only moderate water stress, thereby encouraging the concentration of sugars and tannins in the grapes.
Each of our plots is cultivated according to specific agronomic criteria (fertilization, pruning, water stress) so as to control yields and achieve the quality objectives that we have set. A large part of the Finca, where no herbicides or synthetic phytosanitary products are used, has organic certification.
Grape varieties planted:
Area of vines: 99 hectares. In terms of red grapes, there is Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. In addition to Argentine selections of Malbec we have supplemented the vineyard with some French selections known as Cot. For white grapes, we chose to give expression to several major international varietals, such as Pinot Gris, Tocai Friulano, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier.
The vines that we have selected are among the oldest in the Chacayes region.
Our terroir consists of alluvial gravel soil; polished by the river, the rocks are mainly granite or rhyolite (volcanic rock); there is also some lighter volcanic rock and metamorphic rock. This very diverse range of gravel constitutes the essence of the poor, well-drained soil. The altitude and the proximity of the mountains result in cool temperatures at night, in sharp contrast to the high day-time temperatures.
These natural characteristics of the terroir, combined with our rigorous management of the vineyard and yields, enable us to produce superb, fresh, richly coloured, concentrated wines.