Who is Cadus?
Cadus is an Uco Valley project with a small, perfectly formed and pristine winery near Tupungato. The winery is focusing all its energy on crafting unique, high altitude and small batch wines from the best sites in the valley, including Gualtallary, Vista Flores and Agrelo in Lujan de Cuyo.
The name 'Cadus' is the Latin name given to amphoras used in ancient Rome to carry limited batches of special wine.
Meet The Winemaker - Santiago Mayorga
- Son of a well-known agricultural expert from Mendoza, Santi learnt how to read the land's secrets as a boy
- Santi graduated with honours from Cuyo National University earning a degree in Agricultural Engineering and carried on to postgraduate studies in Vine Quality Management
- In 2013, Santi moved from the boutique Mendel Winery to Cadus / Nieto
"For me this was like moving to a big city, to Manhattan!"
- Named by Tim Atkin as 'Young Winemaker of the Year 2017', Santi has also featured in many wine magazines including the Wine Enthusiast - “Now Generation” winemaker leading the way for the wine industry in Argentina; The Drinks Business - Top 10 Argentine Winemakers To Watch; and Decanter Magazine - "The New Generation" changing the face of the wine industry across Chile and Argentina and also "Argentinian Winemakers: Seven Rising Stars".
"Wine is passion, love, friendship, team work, trial and error, long hours - and I love it!"
Firstly, let's learn how to say 'Criolla' correctly.
Cadus Signature Series Criolla
Wanting to re-connect with indigenous grape varieties, Santi found a 50+ year old Criolla vineyard in Vista Flores with sandy soils and low yield. Made in small tanks with soft extraction through manual piégage, this wine has been aged in concrete eggs. It is a floral, fresh and very juicy wine on the palate.
- Located in Vista Flores, Tunuyán, Uco Valley, at over 1.000 m.a.s.l.
- Conducting system: Parral (Italian pergola). 1600 plants per ha., blend of large and small Criolla
- Very ancient vines planted in 1957. Frank foot
- Low yield per hectar (around 8.000 kg /ha.), low canopy strictness
- Good luminosity and aeration, due to its low vigor, which ensures optimal health
- Traditional irrigation by furrows
- Good thermal amplitude of 16-17 ° C (cool days 29-30°C , fresh nights 13° C) for grape maturity
- Harvest: beginning of April, in bins
Santiago on Criolla
When did you start working with Criolla grapes and why? I started working with Criolla for the first time during the 2017 vintage. I have tasted it many wines and I thought it was a very interesting challenge to try to break the myths of this grape which some consider to be of low quality... yet there are many wines in the world that contain this grape, or relatives of, that I have truly enjoyed!
What is the challenge with Criolla? My goal is to make a wine that is simple and clean, though at the same time authentic and fresh. Normally, with grape varieties like Criolla there is a thin line from quality to no-quality wines. We have to be very precise to achieve an interesting wine that stands out. We also have to manage well the vinification technique (we use piégage), ageing (in concrete eggs), temperature of fermentation (better low) and of course, terroir and vineyard conditions.
What do you like about the grape character / profile? I like the subtlety, freshness and why not, some earthiness in the wines. We are very committed to that, and it is almost like describing the tasting notes of Criolla. For sure, it is a grape with light colour but attractive, with subtle aromas like cherries, strawberries, some herbs, and spices like green pepper. In the mouth, it is soft and light but with a great texture that makes it a really drinkable and enjoyable wine.
How do you adapt your winemaking to work with Criolla grape varieties? We have to be very precise to avoid a bad-funky and unnoticed wine. Firstly, we have to control that vines and grapes are healthy and ripe. The work at the winery is with a good destemmer that can also add some stems in the crushing process when it is ripe. During the maceration and extraction we have to be very gentle, that is why I choose piégage but only in the third part of fermentation. By the end of fermentation, we stay steady to avoid extracting bitterness. The temperature should be cold especially at the end, no more than 20°C. After that pressing, ageing must be a neutral recipient like concrete or stainless steel.
What is the historical significance for Criolla varieties in South America, in your opinion/experience? Criolla grapes in SA had been really very important for table wines. The key to success has been to have a huge yield with decent sugar content (normally the yield is 4 times compared to a fine grape vineyard). Those wines were neutral and uncoloured and in domestic market were a boom in the 70s with a consumption of 90 liters per capita. Now consumption habits have changed and people are looking for more quality, terroir driven-soul wines. Also, most Criolla vineyards were planted in warmer areas where to achieve quality is more difficult because of the smaller thermal amplitude, but there are some vineyards in more quality areas than in the past.
What do you think is the future for Criolla varieties in South America? As many other grapes, the Criolla from especial valleys (high altitude or cold valleys) have come to stay. The vineyards should be low-yielded, healthy and controlled in vigour. I think they will become a niche wine, very interesting for wine lovers and for special occasions. I hope we can grow in volume with great wines and all of them should deliver quality and uniqueness, in spite of the different winemaking styles.