Balbo’s son shining a light on soil types
José Lovaglio, son of Argentine wine pioneer Susana Balbo, has launched a range of four wines designed to highlight the influence of soil type on flavour.
Named Vaglio after his surname and the Italian word for “examine” in a hat tip to his family’s Italian heritage, each of the four wines is made from grapes grown in distinct soils.
Multi regional red blend Chango hails from sandy soils, Chacra Malbec comes from clay based soils, Aggie Malbec is made from alluvial soils, while the grapes that go into Temple Malbec are grown on 80-year-old vines on loam-based soils.
The different soils were used as an experiment to monitor the effect of soil type and terroir on the flavours, aromas and overall character of the wine.
“I wanted to show how Malbec behaves in different soil profiles. I’m trying to find out if site or soil has more influence on the final wine.
“Having my own project allows me to focus on all aspects of the creative process, which is exciting, but it also means the buck stops with me,” Lovaglio admitted to db.
Aggie Malbec uses grapes from the southern part of Gualtallary, while Temple’s grapes are sourced from the northeast of the Uco Valley and Chacra uses grapes from Agreglo, where his family estate is based. In addition to Malbec, Chango features Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon from Altamira.
Each of the wines tells a story of a stage in Lovaglio’s life, which is reflected in the illustrations on the labels, from being born in Salta and growing up in Mendoza, to studying at UC Davis in California and learning Chinese in Shanghai.
Juggling the project alongside a day job at his family estate, Dominio del Plata, Lovaglio made just 40,000 bottles across the range in 2014 from a rented space in El Peral northwest of the Uco Valley.
“I discovered that Malbec is a very flexible grape that adapts to its surroundings. Chacra is the most traditional Malbec in style with sweet ripe fruit, while Aggie is the most mineral, Chango the more floral and Temple the silkiest in texture.”
But while he loves the specificity of single vineyard Malbec, Lovaglio believes the best reds being produced in the country at the moment are blends.
“The best reds in Argentina are blends, which offer the edited highlights of each region. I’m trying to deconstruct that and show the individual components,” he said.
“There’s a focus on single site Malbecs among Argentina’s young winemakers, which is really important as it’s helping us understand the different styles that come from different regions,” he added.
While Lovaglio is a fan of the fresher, more floral styles of Malbec being made today, he admitted that there is still a market for “big, ripe, oaky” Malbec and that the two styles can live side by side. Lovaglio is currently searching for a UK importer for the Vaglio range, which Is aimed at the on-trade.