Come on down to torrontes town (Salta, Argentina – Day Two)

Funny how hindsight is always 20/20, but Salta was a very expensive detour to make. Firstly the rental car here was the most expensive I’ve experienced at $100+ per day, plus a navigator. Then you factor in the three hours each way from Salta, and the three hours each way to Colome, and that adds up to a fair amount of fuel for two days. Then on the way back from Colome on the previous day I had a blow-out without realising on the gravel highway, and subsequently damaged the wheel, which cost me $220 damages. When you add on accommodation and food, I ended up spending about $500 for two days, well over the $100 per day budget I have set myself. Was it worth the effort and expense? We shall see…

Very old vines on a very hot day

Very old vines on a very hot day

My generous winemaker host from Terrazas in Mendoza had recommended a few wineries to visit in Salta, most notably his close winemaker friend Ignacio at Etchart in Cafayate. At short notice and so close to Christmas I really appreciated Ignacio making some time to take me around the winery. Etchart is one of the oldest wineries in the region, but is now under the French Pernod Ricard banner. It is very strong in the domestic market, which accounts for 70% of its production. The brand is so strong that they are associated with Cafayate, having trademarked the term back in the 60s when torrontes wasn’t trendy. Torrontes is the focus here, and with good reason as even though the region doesn’t produce the most of the variety, it is regarded as producing the best. This has a lot to do with the large oscillations in temperature between day and night. Ignacio took me out to the estate vineyard which has some of the most amazing vines I’ve ever seen, torrontes and a parent variety of torrontes, planted back in the 1860s. Ignacio then took me up to the winery tasting room for a snapshot of the wines produced at Etchart. You can read my notes here.

One of the other wineries that Gonzalo recommended was Nanni, and once I realised why (apart from the wines being good) I had a chuckle. The reason is that Ignacio recently got married to the daughter of the family who own Nanni, and she is good friends with Gonzalos girlfriend. Naturally Ignacio recommended the winery, and was nice enough to call ahead so they would expect me. Nanni is one the oldest wineries in the region that is owned by the original family, now run by the fourth generation. The focus is naturally on torrontes, but they also make a range of reds that include cabernet sauvignon, malbec and tannat. You can read my notes here.

Click here to see more photos from Day Two of Salta.

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