In the late 1800s, the Biondolillo family immigrated to Argentina from Italy in search of a fresh start in a young country where ambition, and descendants, could flourish. The stunning landscape of Mendoza drew them to plant their first vines there, some of which still endure after more than a century. Five unbroken generations later, in 2002, the role of grower evolved to that of producer with the construction of a winery and a brand. Tempus Alba, ‘time of the dawn,’ has turned the page to their future.
On the eastern fringe of the Andes, Mendoza provides a superlative environment for viticulture. The high-altitude climate is dry and moderate, with cool night air from the mountains creating wide variations in temperature from day to night, resulting in a long growing season that favors development of complex aromas and ripe, silky tannins. Water from melting Andean snowcaps flows all year to compensate for the region’s scant rainfall. The soils are moderately fertile, well drained and varied, based on alluvia with sandy loam, clay, gravel and pebbles depending on specific terroir.
The Tempus Alba vineyards extend over 270 acres in three districts at altitudes ranging from 2,600 to 3,950 feet above sea level. The San Antonio vineyard, in the Tupungato region of central Mendoza, lies at an elevation of 3,400 feet. Most of the vines date to the early 1960s. Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Tempranillo and Sangiovese represent the predominant plantings, with smaller plots of Sémillon.
Also in central Mendoza, at the border of Tupungato in Luján de Cuyo, La Alborada is the most recent vineyard, with vines planted beginning in the mid 1990s. At an altitude of 3,410 feet, the vineyard is protected from frost and hail prevalent in the area. It is planted to Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
The original estate is El Retorno, a half hour south of the city of Mendoza in the northern Mendoza district of Maipú. At 2,630 feet, it lies on classic terroir for old vine Malbec, many planted in the early 1950s. Production facilities are here, including a genetic bank for development of clonal selections for future production. This ongoing research, begun in 1997, is focused on propagation of Malbec clones particularly suited to the Mendoza soil and environment that faithfully express the finest qualities of both variety and terroir.
Third generation Aldo Luis and Dorothy Biondolillo oversee operations at Tempus Alba, with the collaboration of their sons, José Luis, who directs oenology, and Leo and Mariano, who manage the business of the estate. The family passion for Argentina, its culture and its wines is translated in the flourishes depicted on the labels that trace the complex, intricate patterns of the tango, step by step.
Visit: http://www.tempusalba.com for more information about Tempus Alba.