The Legacy of Domaine St. Diego
With passion and pride for winemaking that rivals Carmelo Patti winemaker Angel Antonio Mendoza, with the help of his daughter and two sons, heads winery Domaine St. Diego, a small boutique winery in Mendoza, Argentina. Angel worked with wine giant Trapiche, and eventually decided to start his own winery with his family, as a project for his retirement and a legacy to leave for future generations. His presentation at the Vines of Mendoza provided us with an evening of wine knowledge and life philosophy, and he commanded the room despite language barriers in some cases.
Wines of Domaine St. Diego
Brut Xero is one of the wineries signature products, and is a dry sparkling wine (espumante) made from 70% Malbec grapes and 30% Chardonnay. The Malbec grapes grew under the shade of the ancient olive trees in the vineyard, which some winemakers would scoff at, but which have produced a wonderful wine in the case of Brut Xero. The combination of Malbec and Chardonnay used in the espumante has extremely low acidity and good acidity/alcohol balance. The bubbles are tiny and Angel describes the taste as creamy...which is certainly the case. The family was inspired by Italian Prosecco makers, and noted that Italians started making sparkling wines 200 years before France.
Paradigma's inspiration came from the desire to break the paradigm that quality red wines must spend some time fermenting in oak barrels. In the 1990s, Argentina made a winemaking transition from quantity to quality, one improvement being the importation and use of oak barrels from France and the United States (Trapiche being one of the first). Although certainly oak has its place in making wine, Domaine St. Diego wanted to make a quality red wine without using barrels and instead relying on the fruit to show what the nature of Mendoza can do on its own. A blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (60%, 20%, 20%), he describes the wine as sencillo, honesto, sincera (simple, honest, sincere).
Concierto 5, in contrast to Paradigma, is a 100% Malbec with 100% of it spending time in barrels. The name (Concert 5) comes from Angel's philosophy on winemaking: that it is an art most like a musical work, with a conductor (the winemaker) who guides the many other hands that are involved in the production of the end result: a bottle of wine. He showcases 5 of the important people involved in the process: his family. Personally, I enjoyed Concierto 5 the most, with its richness, depth and complexity. Instead of explaining the different tastes and smells individually, Angel encapsulated Concierto 5 in a feeling: a winter day, a family gathering, eating almonds, leather, tobacco...
Wine tips from Domaine St. Diego
- Store wines at 54-61 degrees
- While the color of the wine is important, close your eyes when smelling it so you can focus on the nose rather than "falling in love" with the color.