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Argentina’s extreme latitudes and altitudes

by | Oct 24, 2022 | Richmond Wine Society, Teddington Wine Society

Argentina was the focus of the tastings at Richmond, Teddington and on Zoom in October and as usual, the wines of this wonderful South American country did not disappoint.

The theme was latitude and altitude, with the focus falling onto principally wines from Salta – close to the border with Bolivia – followed by a dip into Patagonia, Uco Valley and Mendoza.

It was a top class selection of wines. We started in the far north, barely more than 20deg south of the equator, tasting our old favourite, Amalaya Torrontés Riesling which regularly wins top awards at International wine competitions.  Here high altitudes (2,000m+) ensure bright sunshine but very cold nights, and the slow ripening Riesling just softens the Torrontés to make a very approachable wine.

This was followed by a very elegant Chardonnay from Finca Flichman made from vines cultivated at 1500m in Tupungato, in the Uco Valley, near Mendoza.

The most unusual wine of the night was a Trousseau (a Jura grape) from Patagonia (40deg south of the equator, and much lower altidue)- . Quite light in colour, but flavoursome and spicy with Gamay elements to it.

We contrasted the Gold Medal Malbec 2021 from Amalaya with the 2020 and found not only a intense depth of colour in both wines due to the altitude causing the grape skins to thicken but a very pleasant evolution in the older wine.

At £12 per bottle these were top quality and great value. They contrasted well with the super-premium Altos los Hormigas Malbec Gualtallary (also from the Uco Valley, but with some rare limestone soils). At £40 per bottle, it was the superior wine but certainly not three times better.

We also tasted a wonderful Bonarda from the Colomé estate in Salta. Colomé is part of the Hess Group – Tim Atkin MW rates them as one of Argentina’s top wineries. Bonarda is historically a blending grape with high vigour. As soon as you reduce the yield you can achieve some super intensity.

This example was oozing fruit and intensity and was very popular on the night.

We concluded with a rare Pinot Noir from Salta – the Colomé Altura Maxima Pinot Noir – grown at 3,000m. It had extraordinary intensity yet retained the pale colour we associate with Pinot Noir. It was very good but a £60 we felt we were paying a little bit over the odds.

All in all, a fascinating and diverse selection of wines from the ever improving Argentina.

Full details are on the Wines we have tasted page.

Meet Tim Syrad

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“Throughout the 17 years I have attended Tim’s wine tasting events, he has continued to deliver his extensive knowledge of wine and wine-making with great charm, and lots of humour, making the evenings not only informative, but also great fun. In the course of an average year, the tastings cover a kaleidoscope of different wine themes – interesting and entertaining for all, novices and experts alike. And the wines taste pretty good too!”

“We have been going to Teddington Wine Society events for a number of years. Tim runs the evenings with bonhomie and humour and wears his considerable knowledge lightly. The evenings are great fun, the wines are always a little bit different and help to expand knowledge and tasting horizons.”

“I have attended the Richmond Wine society for over ten years and always enjoyed Tim’s self-effacing style and gentle humour. His knowledge is globally eclectic and presented in a clear, interesting and always stimulating way. Every guest I have taken there has enjoyed the evening immensely. Tim also offers a wide range of wines to buy and my red cellar has provided great pleasure to my own dinner guests.”

“I’ve been enjoying Tim’s tastings for over 20 years – he is a great teacher, raconteur and wine expert. He is seriously passionate about his wine, but there is nothing serious about his tastings, which are always informal and relaxed. A lovely way to spend an evening and enjoy some fantastic wines.”

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