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Jul 22, 2019

Salta, Argentina contains the highest altitude vineyards in the world and some of the most unique wines. At these heights, UV radiation changes the grapes so in this tiny, remote area, the wines contain flavors and character you won't find from anywhere else!

Here are the show notes:

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Overview:

  • Salta is at 24˚-26˚S latitude in the northwest of the country, 1500 km/930 miles northwest of Buenos Aires
  • Extreme altitude, extreme sunlight makes powerful, structured wines with a savory minerality
  • The area has been most famed for Torrontés, which is widely planted across wine regions, beautiful aromatics
  • History: Jesuit missionaries first planted grape seeds from Peru in the 1550’s, failed with an earlier attempt near Buenos Aires – first vineyards in Argentina. Today many vineyards over 100 years old, mostly in Calchaquí Valleys in the Andes Mountains

Location

  • Salta's home of the wine trade is Cafayate
  • The region crosses a bunch of valleys called the Calchaquí Valleys (they span other provinces --  Jujuy, Tucumán, Catamarca)
  • Salta is tiny compared to other Argentina wine regions: The region makes 1% of Argentina’s wines from its 5,200 acres (2,000 ha.) of vineyards
  • Climate: Harsh daytime heat warm days, cool nights with 45˚ F/7.2˚C temperature swings during the long growing season in the Calchaquí Valleys
    • More than 300 days of sunlight a year, wind and ultraviolet radiation – causes mutation inducing properties that magnify color and flavor

Sub areas of Salta

  • Cafayate:4 hours south of Salta with alluvial, porous, deep, sandy soils and clay base is similar to the profile of Mendoza. 
  • Molinos department: More than 100 miles from both Salta and Cafayate 8,000ft/ 2440 M to over 10K feet/3000M

Wine:

  • Both whites and reds are fruity with pure flavors, and alcohol is high with excellent acidity and balance
  • REDS: Malbec, Tannat, Merlot, Syrah, Cab, Cabernet Franc – all marked by extreme sun – color, flavor
    • Tannat is one to watch -- hard to sell internationally but it is a local specialty
    • Colomé produces a 100% Tannat under its Lote Especial label from its Finca La Brava vineyards, 1,700m above sea level in Colomé, Salta.
  • WHITES: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc,Torrontés
    • Torrontés has powerful acidity, floral aromatics – a big, strong white

 

Wineries Mentioned:

Bodega El Esteco:Altimvs and Chañar Punco are top wines from the Bodega

 

San Pedro de Yacochuya: Founded in 1988 by Arnaldo Etchart and Michel Rolland. Made an international reputation for the area

 

Porvenir de Cafayate:Oenologist Mariano Quiroga, with the American consultant Paul Hobbs (we had the Amauta Malbec while we were recording the show!)

 

José Luis Mounier, Finca Las Nubes: a high-altitude terroir expert, Torrontés, Cabernet Sauvignon

 

Colomé and Tacuil wineries in Los Molinos: Both growing vines at 2,500 meters/8,200 above sea level. Colomé’s Altura Maxima is at 10,000 feet/3,111 meters

 

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