The 2018 La Craie is from poorer soils that are very shallow in their PerSe vineyard in Gualtallary, from a plot next to Iubileus where the soils are whiter and shallower, the last plot to be picked. It's a co-fermentation of Malbec and Cabernet Franc (a little less than in 2017) that fermented in open-top oak barrels with indigenous yeasts for 40 days with gentle daily pigeage. I tasted this wine from barrel some 16 months ago, and it was already very promising. And all those promises (and more!) made it into the bottle while at the same time doubling the quantity of wine produced.
2017 was very low yielding, but 2018 was more balanced, the vines are one year older; the vines are still extremely young, and the wine is already amazing, no doubt because of the place rather than the plants. It combines power and elegance in a rare balance—intense, deep, powerful and fresh, somewhat ethereal but with weight (think of a velvet bag filled with chalk), very pure aromas, including wet limestone, from the shallower soils and richer in calcium carbonate, sensations that are found on the nose and also on the palate. There is precision, delineation, purity and symmetry here. All of the wines ferment without stems, yet the wine has a gobsmacking sense of freshness. The texture of the tannins is ultra fine, chalky but almost powdery, finer than those from Iubileus but with grip, not as gentle as those from Inseparable and also more profound than the Uní. Perfect ripeness, perfect balance, perfect extraction, perfect élevage... complex, nuanced and layered. As it happens in wines like this, I only wish I had a magnum rather than a bottle. Bravo!
Per Se is a personal project from Edgardo (Edy) del Popolo and David Bonomi, trailblazers on the Argentine wine scene. David is one of the most knowledgeable oenologists in the Uco Valley, with on-the-ground experience from Altamira in the south to Gualtallary in the north.
Edy was practically born under a grapevine: his parents owned vineyards in north Mendoza, he went on to study oenology and agronomy, and when the winery he was working at was sold to the Santa Rita Estates, he became Doña Paula’s first Argentine employee, going on to oversee planting for them across Argentina.
In 2012 Edy and David founded Per Se, a boutique project based in the Uco Valley making fine wines that express their origins as transparently as possible. The terroir they have chosen is Gualtallary, in their opinion the most interesting area within the Uco Valley, as the combination of a cool climate with complex soils is capable of producing extraordinary wines of unmistakable personality.
They have planted their own vineyard at 1,500 metres on the land leased to them by the Monasterio de Gualtallary. Each of their wines comes from a specific section within the vineyard, with a different soil type. These are serious wines with amazing quality for such a young project and showing balance and drinkability even at a young age.