Hi, wine lovers! How are you doing? Very well, I hope. My road trip continues apace. I’ve been to Mendoza and Jujuy and now… it’s time to taste the wines of Córdoba.
I came to the province, which is one of the largest in Argentina, on the recommendation of a group of people I met in Jujuy, and I’m very glad I listened to them because it wasn’t originally a stop on my tour of the wine regions. But it should have been…
Córdoba is right in the middle of the country, and their landscapes are a dream: sierras, zig-zagging rivers, lush seas of green and lakes in every town and city. Its natural beauty, not unlike The Shire from The Lord of the Rings, makes it a hotspot for domestic tourism.
The favorite local drink is Fernet with Coke. Of course, I gave it a try but… like mate, it’s an acquired taste. Fortunately, it’s not the only one, several very interesting wineries and viticultural projects here as well as the wines of Córdoba. There are even the ruins of a three-hundred-year old winery that just go to show how far back Córdoba’s winemaking history stretches.
I visited a few wineries and met some producers and, of course, I’m going to tell you all about them.
The Wines of Córdoba: a growing scene
La Matilde: a biodynamic enterprise
I went to the Traslasierra Valley, a region to the west of the province and one of the most dynamic wine regions in the province. The trip over the Altas Cumbres mountains is a dream, don’t miss out if you’re ever in the area. My first stop was the La Matilde winery and inn in San Javier, the center of the wines of Córdoba scene.
La Matilde is a lovely estate. They have a hotel, winery and endless activities on offer. They specialize in organic and biodynamic wine, which they make with grapes from their 3-hectare vineyard.
The project began in 2009, so it’s still fairly young. The inn opened in 2015. Their varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Tannat, which they pioneered in the area.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of the winery is their commitment to the environment and sustainable production. For example, it’s built out of adobe bricks and decorated with natural paint.
They also use solar energy to heat the inn and an irrigation system that collects rain water. Their geographic position guarantees 300 days of sun a year, and a rain cycle that helps the grapes to ripen.
In addition to the winery, the estate has a hotel, a restaurant that serves dishes made with vegetables from the organic garden, a general store and even an ice-cream parlor! It’s a paradise for eco-tourism, offering horse rides, riding classes, photography safaris, a tour of the local vineyards and, of course, tastings.
A couple of the wines you need to try from La Matilde: Ladrón de Corazones Malbec and Sierra Roja Tannat.
Aráoz de Lamadrid: wine, art and nature
A few minutes away from La Matilde, we got to our second stop: the Aráoz de Lamadrid winery, an eleven hectare family enterprise at the foot of the Cerro de los Linderos mountain. The first thing that struck me were the colors, a striking palette created by the natural foliage and a garden full of ponds, lotus flowers and sculptures.
At Aráoz de Lamadrid nature and art live side by side. Their first vineyards were planted in 2012 and they focus on producing wines with a “Córdoba identity”. What does that mean? That their wines offer aromas of local herbs such as jarilla, peperina, poleo and palo amarillo, among others. “The bush needs to express itself,” say owners Ana Jordan and Goyo Aráoz de Lamadrid.
The winery was opened at the end of 2017 and produces young, unaged reds, whites and rosés, quintessential Wines of Córdoba, as well as cellar reds. At the moment, they produce 18,000 bottles a year.
Among the more than 30,000 plants to be found in the gardens of Aráoz de Lamadrid there are 11,000 vines, with two white and nine red varieties. The estate also has a cactus garden with 2000 cacti from across the Americas. It’s accompanied by a restaurant, hotel and organic store decorated with artworks by local artists and craftspeople.
Of course, no visit would be complete without a tasting accompanied by local delicacies: cheeses, tortillas, charcuterie and other specialties.
A wine recommendation: Aráoz de Lamadrid Gran Reserva Bonarda.
Bodega Noble San Javier: pioneers in Córdoba
The last stop on our tour of the Wines of Córdoba is Noble San Javier, “the wine of my people”.
This small, multi-award winning winery was founded in 2002 by owner Nicolás Jascalevich. They have three hectares of productive vineyards divided between Malbec, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The altitude here, between 2900 and 3600 feet, ensures a favorable climate.
San Javier make their wines using organic, biodynamic methods. Their production capacity is between 15,000 and 20,000 bottles a year while the winery is open to the public all year round, offering a range of activities at the foot of the Champaquí mountain, the highest in Córdoba.
Their accommodation, Las Jarillas, was named for a local shrub whose branches are used in buildings and has seven rooms. It is made from wood and stone.
Noble San Javier’s essential wines are the Merlot everyone kept telling me about and Champaquí Malbec.
So, that’s the first part of my trip to Córdoba. I hope that I’ve been able to communicate some of the pleasure I’ve had in this wonderful province and I hope to see you again for the next instalment. Until next time wine lovers!