CARO is the top wine from Bodegas Caro a joint venture between the world famous Bordeaux produced Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) and one of the very best Argentinian wine producers, the Catena Family. Hence the name CARO i.e CAtena and ROthschild. They also produce the superb Amancaya Malbec / Cabernet Sauvignon blend.
This Rothschild / Catena joint venture came into being in 1999 with the idea of combining the best of French and Argentinian culture and winemaking and making a blend from the two signature grapes from each producer – Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. Bodega Catena Zapata, to give its full name was founded in 1902 and were key in helping to resurrect the Malbec grape variety as well as their pioneering exploration of extreme high altitude terroirs. Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) are famous for their first growth Bordeaux, Chateau Lafite Rothschild but also have other ventures around the world including Los Vascos in Chile and Chateau d’Aussieres in Corbieres amongst others.
The first vintage of Caro was released in 2000. The Bodegas Caro cellars located in the heart of Mendoza and the first wine made there was the 2003 vintage (I assume the earlier vintages of Caro must have been made at Catena’s winery). The original cellars here were built between 1884 and 1895. The grapes for Caro are sourced from two of the best terroirs in Mendoza. The first is located in Lujan de Cuyo and Maipo from vineyards situated between 800 to 950 metres and the average temperature range is 23ºC (max)/ 8ºC (min). This is known as the “first zone” as it is where Malbec was first planted in Mendoza. The other vineyards are located in the Uco Valley in Tunuyán, Tupungato and San Carlos. The altitude range is here 1000 to 1600 metres and the average temperature range is 22ºC (max)/ 7ºC (min). The Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec grapes are harvested by hand followed by sorting on tables at the winery. Vinification is traditional with a gentle pumping-over, followed by a period of maceration that varies in length depending on grape variety and vintage. The wine is aged for 18 months in French oak (60% new) mostly in barrels made at Rothschild’s own cooperage in Bordeaux. The winemaker is Fernando Buscema assisted by the technical director for DBR (Lafite) estates outside of Bordeaux, Olivier Trégoat. The blend varies from vintage to vintage but is normally between 60 to 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25 to 40% Malbec. The 2014 is, however, 65 % Malbec and 35 % Cabernet Sauvignon.