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Amalaya Malbec 2014
Blend: 85% Malbec, 10% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The Salta region in northern Argentina is home to world’s highest vineyards. Near the town of Payogasta, the Colomé Altura Máxima vineyard is planted at 10,206 feet in elevation.
Salta is part of the Calchaquí Valley, which benefits from more than 300 days of sun per year, subjecting its vines to considerable ultraviolet radiation. The valley experiences strong high altitude winds, even in the “lower” vineyards, which are planted at 5,413 feet. Because of these elevations and resulting extreme conditions, vines produce lower yields and thicker-skinned grapes, resulting in concentrated, aromatic and well-structured wines.
In a truly unique region, the highly aromatic variety, Torrontes, thrives; intense sun exposure allows full ripening, while cooling winds maintain the grapes’ acidity levels and phenolic balance.
Upscale hotels, beautiful colonial architecture, a majestic Andean backdrop and impressive food and wine make the area attractive among tourists as well.
Salta is the fourth most important Argentine wine-producing region after Mendoza, San Juan, and La Rioja. Its oldest vineyards were planted in 1862.
Known for its big, bold flavors and supple texture, Malbec is most famous for its runaway success in Argentina. However, the variety actually originates in Bordeaux, where it historically contributed color and tannin to blends but was susceptible to viticultural problems. After being nearly wiped out by a devastating frost in 1956, it was never significantly replanted, although it did flourish under the name Côt in nearby Cahors. Malbec was brought to Argentina in 1868 by a French agronomist who saw great potential for the variety in Mendoza’s hot, high-altitude landscape, but did not gain its current reputation as the national grape of Argentina until a surge in popularity in the late 20th century thanks to its easy-going drinkability.
In the Glass
Malbec typically expresses deep flavors of freshly turned earth, black fruits from berries to plums, and licorice, appropriately backed by dense, chewy tannins. In warmer, New World regions, such as Mendoza, it can be quite intense and often needs time to mellow before becoming drinkable. In the Old World, its rusticity shines, with aged examples showing dusty notes of leather and tobacco. The best examples in all regions often possess a beguiling bouquet of violets.
Malbec’s rustic character begs for flavorful dishes, like spicy grilled sausages or the classic cassoulet of France’s Southwest. South American iterations are best enjoyed as they would be in Argentina: with a thick, juicy steak.
If you’re trying to please a crowd, Malbec is generally a safe bet. With its combination of bold flavors and soft tannins, it will appeal to basically anyone who enjoys red wine. Malbec also wins bonus points for affordability, as even the most inexpensive examples are often quite good.