A Chat with Javier Lo Forte of Pulenta Estate

Have you ever heard of a winery whose guiding principle was humility? That’s what Javier Lo Forte says about Pulenta Estate, where he has been the head winemaker since 2011. We at Argovino recently had a chance to speak to him about the Pulenta family’s unique enterprise in Mendoza.

Pulenta has been one of the great names behind Argentine wine for more than a century. In 1997, the Pulenta family sold its controlling interest in Trapiche – still an enormous producer today – and Hugo and Eduardo Sr. decided to found their own winery. Since 2002, the winery has used grapes from two vineyards that the family kept for itself: the Agrelo vineyard planted in 1991, and the Uco Valley vineyard planted in 1981.

In the past decade, Pulenta Estate wines have taken their place among the boutique brands most representative of the classic Mendozan style. With a strong desire to serve the market, Javier says the current generations of the Pulenta family – Eduardo Sr. and Eduardo Jr. – have a strategy designed to mix traits that will please connoisseurs and the everyday drinker. “Our style speaks of wines that are elegant, with finesse, but drinkable and accessible,” Javier says. The idea “is always to deliver to the consumer the same quality and the same style year after year.”

They also want to show just how many varieties can thrive in Mendozan soil. Along with their malbecs, we’ve reviewed their fragrant sauvignon blanc and will be adding their stunning cabernet franc soon. “It’s easy to show off a good malbec from Mendoza,” he says. “For us it’s just the point of the spear. We want to show that Mendoza isn’t just malbec.”

Pulenta’s stunning cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and pinot gris are 100% from Agrelo, while its malbec is a mix with the Uco Valley grapes. Its blends also include merlot, petit verdot, and tannat. Agrelo grapes offer more of that elegance and finesse, while those from the Uco Valley bring more concentrated and structured flavors. They’ve even experimented with pinot noir, which isn’t always a natural for Mendoza, with Paul Hobbs. Their vineyard in the Uco Valley has a cooler climate than the one in Agrelo, which helps.

Going forward, Javier and his colleagues want to incorporate new influences from around the world, always with an eye on the consumer’s changing preferences. He is 32 years old, having worked his first harvest at Bodega La Rural (Rutini) in 2000, and the members of his team are in their mid-20s. “We’re all trying to get to know all the angles of the industry,” Javier says. “We all travel. It’s the new concept of winemakers.” We’re certainly looking forward to more of Pulenta Estate’s excellent, forward-looking wines. Salud!

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