In 1885, the Buenos Aires to Mendoza railway opened, cementing the significance of this emerging wine-growing region high in the Andean foothills. One visitor to Mendoza, an English engineer called Edmund Norton, was so struck by the natural beauty and potential he saw there that he established a winery bearing his name. In 1895, the first vines were planted in Mendoza’s Luján de Cuyo district. Almost a century later, Gernot Langes-Swarovski was similarly struck by Mendoza and its vineyards, and in 1989, he acquired Bodega Norton and set about transforming it into the world-renowned winery it is today. Both men rightly recognised the special nature of the area. At 900-1100 metres the altitude moderates the temperature while exposing the vines to more ultraviolet light. The results are, whites packed with vibrant flavour and good natural acidity, and on the other side, well-structured and food-friendly reds.
Bodega Norton has five vineyards today, spread over the main terror of Mendoza in foothills of the Andean Mountains. All of them are located within a privileged zone known as the First Zone for the quality of its grapes. However, it’s not just the geographical influences that benefit the wines, but the age of the vines too. Their average age is around 30 years, but they do also have a large number of hectares under 80 years old vines. Agrelo, for example, consists of 30 hectares planted 930 metres above sea level. Here some are some of the oldest vines – Producing concentrated grapes which, when carefully cultivated, produce the high-end Lote wines.
This is the original Norton Property, where their winery is located. With a hundred years of continuous cultivation, it consists of 1200 hectares, almost entirely planted 950 metres above sea level, with vines aged between 30 and 50 years old. The terror offers a combination of poor soils and cold air coming from the mountain, which produces aromatic and concentrated white and red grapes, perfect for making powerful and elegant high-end wines. It excels at Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec varieties.
The winemaking process begins with high-quality grapes because as they have always said: “Great wines are born in the vineyard”. Once harvested with the utmost care the grapes arrive for hand sorting at the winery to remove any damaged grapes and leaves. Grapes are then pressed and the resulting juice is fermented, for reds the grapes are fermented at between 28 and 30 degrees C for 10 days. While the whites are fermented at a cooler 15 to 20 degrees C for around 15 days, these whites then undergo a second malolactic fermentation, giving them the creamier mouth-feel. The reds can be aged in oak after fermentation adding to the complexity of flavour.