High Altitude Wines, the stars of the Calchaquí Valleys

wines from the Calchaquí Valleys

Hi, wine lovers! How are you doing? I’m still on my trip through Salta, enjoying a spectacular summer in Argentina.

Today, I’m going to introduce you to more of the wines of the Calchaquí Valleys, so fasten your seatbelts and we’ll get going!

The wines from the Calchaquí Valleys

Amar y Vivir, a pearl in the Quebrada de San Lucas

Our first stop is the beautiful Arca Yaco vineyard. Located in the stunning Quebrada de San Lucas ravine, it’s 23 miles from Cafayate at an altitude of 7200 feet above sea level.

The winery is run by Matías Etchart – the grandson of the founder of Bodegas Etchart – who welcomes visitors personally. He bought the estate, which hadn’t been used to produce wine before, in 2010 and set about planting vines.

These included Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, which he accompanied with paths and irrigation ditches, and then launched Amar y Vivir named for a bolero ballad that evokes family memories.

In 2015, Amar y Vivir presented the first of its eight vintages so far. Between 2020 and 2021, Matías diversified his vines, adding Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Tannat and Zinfandel (the first of the latter to be planted in the Calchaquí Valleys).

wines from the Calchaquí Valleys

Today, the project produces wines from the Calchaquí Valleys of great quality under six different labels. Two are part of the Amar y Vivir line (a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Malbec, both of which are aged in 500-liter French barrels) and the other four are sold under the Imagínate line: Malbec, Torrontés, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, all of which are unaged.

My highlights were the two Amar y Vivir wines, which really reflect Matías Etchart’s personality, but also the Imagínate Malbec, a lovely, fresh, elegant wine.

Piatelli, a Salta experience

Our second stop is Piatelli, which is much more than a winery. Its architecture, restaurant and new resort make it a wonderful option for anyone looking for a dream, 100% Salta experience.

It’s on the RP2 road, in Cafayate, and is surrounded by Cardon cacti. Here, you can go on treks, bicycle rides, 4×4 excursions, organize tastings and picnics and even go bird watching, all of which will immerse you in the natural landscape.

wines from the Calchaquí Valleys

Every year, Piatelli produce almost a million liters of wine. Their main lines are Reserva, Gran Reserva and Ícono. The resort has 20 cabins and each is named for a different varietal.

The hits for me were their Reserva Torrontés – an exquisite white – and their flagship wine, the Arlene Series, a blend of 85% Malbec with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. But if you see it in stores, you definitely need to try the Piattelli Limited Edition Cabernet Franc.

Tukma, a historic terroir

Set at the foot of the Sierra del Cajón at an altitude of 5600 feet, Tukma combines history and nature. The name is the Diaguita, one of the largest indigenous communities in the area, word for cacique leaders.

Tukma makes wine according to local tradition. Their oenologist is José Luis Mounier, a leading figure in Argentine wine who moved to Cafayate in 1986.

The winery has a production capacity of 300,000 liters mostly stored in concrete vessels. The lovely building dates back to 1892 and is built in colonial style.

wines from the Calchaquí Valleys

In addition to their wines from the Calchaquí Valleys, the estate boasts the Altalaluna Hotel Boutique & Spa, an oenotourism enterprise just a mile from the winery which offers high-end cuisine, a pool and a spa.

My favorite wines here were Tukma Torrontés Tardío, which was delicious, while the Gran Corte – Malbec, Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon found its way into my backpack.

Los Cardones: a colossus in Tolombón

Continuing along the road to Tolombón, I got to Estancia Los Cardones, where the stone winery stands out against the mountain landscape.

The building was constructed in 2017 and has a capacity of 150,000 liters of wine a year, although they are planning to expand to 250,000 in the future.

It is run by the Saavedra Ascona family in partnership with the well-known engineer and oenologist Alejandro Sejanovich, who aim to produce fresh wines from the Calchaquí Valleys with the spicy, aromatic character typical of the region.

wines from the Calchaquí Valleys

The dry climate and shallow, rocky soils full of disintegrated mica make this a unique terroir. It is especially favorable for the production of Malbec and Torrontés, two of the winery’s iconic varieties.

Los Cardones offers a range of activities: the basic pack, which includes a guided visit and tasting while the full package also includes wine pairings, and the premium option involves a guided tour, tasting and lunch.

Do I have any recommendations? Of course I do! Their Tigerstone line from parcels where the stones include veins of quartz reminiscent of tiger stripes, includes an epic Malbec and a Garnacha.

See you with the next post, Bye, bye!

Want to learn more about Nicky’s travels? Click here


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *