El Esteco Don David Reserve Tannat 2016
With over 1500 acres of vineyards standing at 5500-6600 feet above sea level, Michel Torino is the most important winery in the Cafayate Valley of Argentina. All of the Michel Torino wines are hand-harvested in the estate's own vineyards. Additionally, Andrés Höy, Torino's production manager, practices sustainable, environmentally- friendly farming by minimizing the use of fertilizers and chemicals in the vineyard. The unique Cafayete climate manifests itself in the elegant, focused profile of Michel Torino's wines. These are wines with an indelible sense of place, wines which complement food rather than overpower, wines which are true to their origin.
With vineyards tretching along the eastern side of the Andes Mountains from Patagonia in the south to Salta in the north, Argentina is one of the world’s largest and most dynamic wine producing countries—and most important in South America.
Since the late 20th century vineyard investments, improved winery technology and a commitment to innovation have all contributed to the country’s burgeoning image as a producer of great wines at all price points. The climate here is diverse but generally continental and agreeable, with hot, dry summers and cold snowy winters—a positive, as snow melt from the Andes Mountains is used heavily to irrigate vineyards. Grapes very rarely have any difficulty achieving full ripeness.
Argentina’s famous Mendoza region, responsible for more than 70% of Argentina’s wine production, is further divided into several sub-regions, with Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley most noteworthy. Red wines dominate here, especially Malbec, the country’s star variety, while Chardonnay is the most successful white.
The province of San Juan is best known for blends of Bonarda and Syrah. Torrontés is a specialty of the La Rioja and Salta regions, the latter of which is also responsible for excellent Malbecs grown at very high elevation.
A brooding, rustic and dark red originating from the Madiran region in Southwest, France, Tannat is named for its naturally high level of tannins.
The vines ended up in the hands of Basque settlers who are responsible for bringing the variety to Uruguay in the early 19th century—similar to Malbec’s journey to Argentina, which actually happened after Tannat’s trans-Atlantic journey, and by a Frenchman. Today the grape has become much more important in Uruguay, where it thrives in its warmer South American climate, making a wine still deep in color and bold in tannins but with riper, more forward fruit complemented by sweet autumn spice and roasting coffee aromas. Producers have more freedom here to blend the firm Tannat with softer varieties like Pinot noir or Merlot.
From its home in Madiran, Tannat produces bold, inky and granular wines, concentrated in black and blue fruit with aromas of wet earth, dried herbs and graphite. They’re often composed of 100% Tannat but the law allows no less than 60%; the remainder of the blend can include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and an indigenous grape called Fer.
Try Tannat with a big juicy steak, a rich Pasta Bolognese or any strong cheese.