CARO is the joint project between Eric de Rothschild (Lafite) and Nicolas Catena. Lafite had already begun a joint venture in Chile (Los Vascos) when Baron Eric met Nicolas, and he was quite surprised by the quality of the Catena wines. The two decided to start a joint venture – these were all the rage at the time – and so CARO was born, with the first wine released in 2000. The idea was to bring together the two grapes that were so important to each family: Eric’s beloved Cabernet Sauvignon that forms the backbone of Lafite, and Catena’s famous Malbec.
In 2003 they bought what is now the barrel ageing cellar and winery for the CARO project. It’s now a beautifully renovated brick building and cellar, that was part of the historic Escorihuela Gascón winery in Mendoza City (that winery is also owned by Catena, and houses Mallman’s well known 1884 restuarant). This was built between 1884 and 1895. 2003 also saw the release of a second wine, Amancaya, which has since been followed by a third, a straight Malbec called Aruma. Fernando Buscema is in charge of this project, and he’s doing a great job.
This is a winery project, rather than a vineyard one, and the grapes are sourced from vineyards in the first zone of Mendoza and also the Uco Valley. The wines are impressive: pick the Amancaya for drinking now, and lay the Caro down: it needs time.
Aruma Malbec 2016 Mendoza, Argentina
First vintage 2016. No oak. 25 000 case production. Fresh and supple with lovely bright fruit. Pure, focused black cherries and blackberries. Some subtle meat and olive notes, but the key theme is pure fruit, and it’s a lovely balanced wine. 91/100
Amancaya 2015 Mendoza, Argentina
60% Malbec and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, half in barrel and half in concrete vats. Retail US$22, 30 000 case production. Very fresh and supple with some sweetness to the focused black cherry and blackberry fruit. Lovely freshness here with a bit of spice and a hint of coffee. Lovely weight and drinkability. 93/100
CARO 2015 Mendoza, Argentina
80% Malbec, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, matured in oak, 80% new. 3000 cases in this vintage. $65 retail. Rich and quite dense with chocolatey, spicy notes and sleek black fruits. Rich ad powerful with great concentration of black cherry and blackberry fruit. So powerful and polished but not over the top. Currently carrying some oak but it will integrate. 93/100