Saturday, February 2, 2013

Wine 101

Library Wines at Bodega El Porvenir 

Argentina is justly famous for great Malbec.  Fewer people have enjoyed the superb white wine, Torrontes and even less know what Tannat can do to enhance the flavors and complexity of a red blend.  Our friends know we come here to walk the orchards and vineyards, talk with the growers and winemakers so we can improve our own wine making skills.  On previous trips we visited Mendoza, the wine capital, and far south in Patagonia, spent time at the el Fin del Mundo vineyards south of Neuquen.  This time we came to the northwest, to Salta and Cafayate, the home of aromatic white Torrontes.

Cafayate has a great little museum, Museo de la Vid y el Vino, with sound and light and interactive displays on the life of the vine and the magical process of turning soil, sun, water and the hard work of man into the beautiful beverage.  Wine is like life, complex and mysterious; the powerful sunshine, pure air and water and the huge temperature swing between day and night can turn an ordinary grape into complex sugars, add fermentation and the proper yeast to create the right balance of fruit and terroir, a skilled winemaker can choose from 13-14 percent alcohol and after filtering the white wine it shimmers in the glass and gives joy.

Bodega Nanni
We visited three great wineries in Cafayate, El Porvenir was our favorite.  The personal guided tour of the entire operation was thoughtful and the wine excellent.  In the past three years they have retained Donald Hobbs of California as consulting winemaker and this year they received a 92 from Robert Parker.  The wines were moderately priced and are now available in North America.

Bodega El Esteco 
We also visited a very large scale winery, El Esteco and a smaller family owned winery, Bodega Nanni.  Both had great wines, nice tours and are worth a visit,  Nanni was founded in 1897 and only produces 250,000 bottles a year for local consumption.  Esteco is 20 times larger and sells a variety of labels and at different price points throughout the world.

We walked through the vineyards, ate some grapes and measured the vine spacing and the trellis systems.  We talked to the workers about the pruning practices and the cosecha, the grape harvest, which will begin next week.  The wine museum has a video on the history of winemaking and watching it makes you feel small as the process is formidable.  It also makes you thirsty.  So, let's raise a glass of Torrontes.  cheers.  Next time we can focus on Malbec and its cousin from Cahors, France called Tannat.  Dale

1 comment:

Tolentino's Trivium said...

Beautiful and lovely! Love following you!