Salta is a little known paradise for wines in Argentina. While it is more widely recognised as the epicentre for production of Argentina's flagship white wine, Torrontés, they also produce excellent full-bodied and spicy reds like our favourite variety Malbec. Malbec expert and Sommelier Emilien Rébeilleau describes the region for Artisan Malbec and recommends two great Malbec wines from the highest vineyard in the world.
By Emilien REBEILLEAU
Sommelier & Argentinian wine expert
Located in the north-west of Argentina, the Salta vineyard sits just below the South American “Altiplano”. Its high plain is in Bolivia, while the northernmost area stretches into Peru and the Titicaca Lake, and the southernmost point into Chile and Argentina. On average, its altitude stands around 3750 metres above sea level, which is slightly less than the Tibetan Plateau, but the Salta region’s real quality and potential sits between 1600 and just above 3000 metres.
Viticulture is an old tradition in Salta: its first vines were planted by the Jesuits in the 18th century in the town of Molinos. The Salta region has a desert climate with rainfall below 200mm per year. IG Salta is the generic appellation, but within this region are four sub-regions (from south to north): IG Cafayate-Valle de Cafayate, IG San Carlos, IG Molinos and IG Cachi. The “Ruta del Vino de Salta” covers this entire region of some 200km.
Cafayate and wine tourism
The town of Cafayate is a significant wine tourism destination in the Salta region. Full of indigenous culture, this small town has its own gastronomy of empanadas and goat cheese, which along with many other local foods, pair naturally well with local wines. Over the past 20 years, the town’s hospitality has evolved and there is now an industry for wine tourism, with travel agencies offering tours and tastings in wineries and the wine museum aka “Museo de la Vid y el Vino”.
A proper style
The main grape varietals in Salta region are Torrontés, planted just in Argentina, and Cabernet Sauvignon, but you can also find a large quantity of Malbec, the national grape, and Tannat. The whites are aromatic and fresh, while reds are deep, intense, colourful and classified as full bodied. Some of the most famous wineries in the Salta region include El Esteco, Bodega Etchart, Colomé and Domingo Molina.
Two great wines from Salta now available in Australia through Artisan Malbec
Altimus MMXI one of the top “cuvée” from Bodega El Esteco, comprises mainly of Malbec grapes blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Ageing over 18 months in French new oak gives this wine true character: driven by ripe red fruits and violet and with a long final dominated by dark chocolate, it can be enjoyed now but will also cellar well for a couple of years.
Domingo Molina Malbec 2011 is another classic of this familial winery located at 2000 metres above sea level. With a deep purple hue, this malbec flaunts a beautiful red fruit character of ripe plums and cherries, smooth tannins on the palate and touch of minerality.
Buy now visiting our shop online: http://wineclub.artisanmalbec.com.au/store
“Up until now it was all about the variety of the grape, but now the first ‘terroir wines’ from Malbec have started to appear”
“Consumers always associate Malbec with Argentina and what characterises us like tango, soccer, beautiful landscapes and our meat. Malbec reflects all of what Argentina is made of”