Recently, I had the privilege of attending a seminar led by Alfredo Bartholemeu, famed importer from Billington Imports (Catena, Cousino Macul) who brought up the Argentine appellation of Salta. His discussion of the area of Salta is that this is the premier region for Torrontés, Argentina’s chief white grape. He told the crowd of some 75 that buying Torrontés from any other Argentine region would be wrong, primarily because Torrontés doesn’t fare nearly as well in other parts of the country.
So, not knowing much about the region of Salta, I thought I’d look it up and report back to you on the matter.
Obviously, those familiar with Argentinean wines are most familiar with the region of Mendoza, which, according to Mr. Bartholemeu, is responsible for nearly 70% of all wine produced in Argentina, so the wines of the Salta pale in comparison of production. Salta, which is one of the two most northern wine regions in Argentina (it borders the southern portion of Bolivia), is one of very high elevations and varied soils. Known for producing excellent Cabernets, the subregion of Cafayate is chiefly recognized for its superior Torrontés, though the region is also known for Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Syrah and Malbec.
One particular Torrontés that I have been enamored with is the Colomé 2007 ($9.99 special). A fragrant white wine with orange blossom, white flower and white peach aromas leading into flavors of juicy apricot, guava and mango, its clean, balanced acidity would match well with spicy foods.
This particular wine is grown at some of the highest elevations in the world (between 6500 and 7500 feet) which for wines from the Salta, is not terribly uncommon. The higher altitude allows for maximum sun contact, giving the grapes the optimum ripening levels for a more intense wine.