The 2018 vintage was awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Alternative South American Whites (see blue link below).
The 2016 vintage was also awarded 95 points and a Platinum Best In Show at the Decanter World Wine Awards (www.decanter.com): see their August 2017 DWWA supplement (see blue link below).
Amalaya translates to ‘hope for a miracle’ in the indigenous language of the now extinct tribe, the Calchaquí. The winery is situated in Cafayate, Calchaquí Valley in Salta in the far north of Argentina at nearly 1,828 metres above sea level. It is a part of the Hess Family Estates and is run with the same dedication to quality, sustainability and social responsibility as the other Hess Estates. All of the Amalaya wines are fruit driven in style, with a finesse that unites them. These wines offer incredible value for their quality and truly reflect their ‘sense of place‘.
The Torrontes and Riesling grapes were grown on the Finca San Isidoro vineyards. These are located in the Cafayate Valley in the very heart of the Calchaqui Valley, distinguished for being the highest wine region in the world. The climate here is very dry, with just 150mm of rain in an average year and a huge thermal amplitude of around 20°C. The soils here are rocky, poor and sandy so the roots of the vines are forced to dig deep to find the vital nutrients and water they need, which in turn results in a huge concentration of flavour within the fruit.
The grapes went through a double selection process, firstly in the vineyard and then again on the sorting table at the winery. The grapes underwent cold maceration for four days, followed by a slow fermentation using selected yeasts, at low temperatures to retain the varietal fruit character. 80% of the wine was aged in stainless steel tanks with 20% aged in French oak for 10 months.
85% Torrontes, 15% Riesling.
Intense gold in colour, this wine has pronounced aromas of grapefruit and lemon peel. Delicate and silky on the palate with great freshness and crisp acidity on the distinctly mineral finish.
ABV = 13.0%.
The 2016 vintage was awarded 92 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (www.robertparker.com) in June 2018 (see blue link below)...
See/click the link below for more data from the winemakers themselves.
In 1902, Nicola Catena, an Italian immigrant, planted his first vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina. The winery has remained under family control — now in its fourth generation — and is one of the few family-owned wine companies in Argentina that remains in Argentine hands. Owned today by Nicolás Catena and his daughter Laura, Bodega Catena Zapata is known as the pioneer of fine wine from Argentina, and Nicolás is recognized as the vintner who revolutionized wine quality in Argentina. A trained economist, Nicolás began this revolution in the early 1980s and continues to challenge himself and his team to make wines that can be counted among the best in the world. His measured approach to viticulture has taken its place in wine history as the pioneer of Malbec and high-altitude viticulture.
Catena wines, first launched in 1992, set a new standard for quality in South America. The wines immediately proved the quality potential of Argentina and garnered the first outstanding reviews for Argentine wines from worldwide media. After more than 20 years, the wines of Catena continue to lead the way in Argentine viticulture and winemaking. The family and the winery’s employees take great pride in carrying on the tradition that began over a century ago.
These vines undergo a careful thinning process, leaving only a select few clusters, resulting in remarkably complex, aromatic and flavorful fruit. Through the application of natural techniques, these grapes are transformed into Catena Alta. The Catena Alta Chardonnay is produced from two of the Catena family vineyards - Adrianna, at almost 5,000 feet elevation and Domingo, at 3,700 feet elevation. The Adrianna vineyard's pebble covered soil and cool climate are ideal for growing Chardonnay. The fruit from Adrianna has a purity of flavors and a minerality that is particular to this vineyard and cannot be found anywhere else in Mendoza. Meanwhile, the sandy loam soils of the Domingo vineyard contribute white stone fruit and good acid balance.
Whole clusters are pressed and then 100% fermented in 500-litre French oak barrels with natural yeasts at low temperatures and with aggressive battonage. Aged for 14 months in French oak. 30% does not undergo malolactic fermentation. First-, second- and third- use barrels used.
The Catena Alta Chardonnay presents an intenese greenish-yellow color. The nose offers ripe white fruit aromas such as pears and peaches that are interwoven with delicate citrus and floral notes, such as jasmine. The palate shows rich and concentrated ripe pear, apple and apricot flavors with a light note of minerality. The wine finishes long and complex with crisp, mineral acidity.
ABV = 13.5%.
The 2018 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2019 edition panel tasting of Alternative South American Whites (see blue link below).
Among the Calchaquí Valley’s lush vegetation, rivers and rocky mountains, there emerges, unexpectedly, a stretch of desert. At an altitude of 1,800 metres, with its radiant sunshine and ideal temperature range hot days and cool nights, the environment is perfect for the vine growing. And it is here, in the heart of this unique valley where El Esteco stands with 1,000 acres of vineyards. French immigrants David and Salvador Michel founded the winery in 1892, taking advantage of this special region to produce distinctive and elegant high-end wines, with great concentration of colour, deep aromas and well-defined flavours.
At El Esteco's Las Mercedes estate, there are vines in the Torrontés vineyard over 70 years in age that yield a very delicate wine of subtlety and citrus freshness, with a perfect balance between acidity and sweetness. Once the chosen vines have reached their optimum point of maturity, the grapes are collected manually first thing in the morning, in boxes of 18 kg each and quickly transported to the winery to begin vinification.
In the cellar, the grapes go through selection and subsequent pressing. It is a very particular fermentation for Torrontes and this wine: during the first third, the liquid begins to ferment with 15% of whole grape grains. Then, the liquid is separated from the grain and the fermentation of the liquid continues only using indigenous yeasts until the end of the process. The wine is bottled without any previous filtration and remains in tank for the next 6 to 8 months.
A vibrant wine with fresh tropical fruits and delicate aromas of roses and orange peel, lifted by a refreshing acidity. Light yellow with slight greenish and steely notes, slightly veiled by the presence of very fine lees in suspension. On the nose, delicate: subtle and fresh citrus aromas - delicately mineral and floral. On the palate, fresh and young, with great texture - very easy to drink(!) - with an excellent balance of acidity and sweetness.
ABV = 14.0%.
Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their April 2020 edition expert article, Top 20 Under £20: South American Chardonnay (see blue link below).
The winery was founded in 1910 by Polish immigrant Don Sami Flichman. He purchased property in Barrancas (southern Maipú) and planted vines in rocky, well-drained plots situated along the Mendoza river. It was Sami’s son Isaac who first began to make fine wine at the estate, including Caballero de la Cepa, one of the first high-quality wines that garnered international awareness for premium Argentinian wines. Sogrape Vinhos purchased Finca Flichman in 1998, and invested heavily in restoring the vineyards and equipping the winery with modern equipment. The original Barrancas vineyard remains among their 400 hectares of vines, which also includes the higher altitude Tupungato vineyard. Today the wines are made by Germán Berra, one of Argentina’s brightest talents, who was recognised as the ‘Best Young Winemaker’ in the Argentina Wine Awards in 2016. Germán works closely with consultant and renowned winemaker Alberto Antonini.
The Dedicado wines are made from the best hand-harvested fruit from the high-altitude Tupungato vineyards. Tupungato is the northernmost sub-region of the Uco Valley in Mendoza, and it sits at 1300 metres above sea level. The grapes benefit from large diurnal temperature variations which result in a longer growing season. Pedro Parra, the renowned Chilean soil mapping expert, consults on these vineyards.
All grapes were hand-harvested. After gentle crushing, the must was transferred to stainless-steel tanks for fermentation, which took approximately 25 days. After malolactic fermentation, the wine spent 12 months on its lees in French oak barrels, then three months in bottle before release.
The wine is pale yellow in colour with aromas of ripe lemon, pineapple, honeysuckle and hints of vanilla and toast. It is medium-bodied and has a long, elegant finish.h.
ABV = 13.0%.