Whenever I’m presented with the opportunity of a journey to a new destination, my mind begins to imagine the landscapes, the scents, flavours and sensations that await me. But reality exceeded expectations when I visited the Province of Salta. Nestled in the north east of Argentina, Salta la linda (Salta the beautiful) is a magical place defined by colourful mountains, deserts covered in prickly cacti, and of course, what interests me most, valleys with microclimates apt for the cultivation of grapevines. The result of these microclimates is a high-quality wine with distinctly mature notes and structures you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

This unique terroir provides a significant thermic amplitude, that is the difference between day-time and night-time temperatures, that allows the grape to maintain an adequate level of acid throughout the vegetative cycle, retaining its best aromatic components.

Our first destination was Molinos, a small town lost in the vast distances of the province. After traveling kilometres along a bumpy dirt track we arrived at the Colome winery, a pioneer in the elaboration of the famous high-altitude torrontes. Incredible landscapes hold up each drop of this wine marked by floral and citric notes. The torrontes was paired with an aromatic goat’s cheese with local herbs and dried fruits. The aromatic persistence and power of each drop of this high-altitude wine is reflected in its place of origin. The afternoon was capped off with a visit to the James Turrell Museum, a tour of visual works of fantastic colours, directly in front of the winery in the middle of the desert.

The following day we set off for Cafayate, the prolific valleys infiltrated by vineyards, birthplace of the best wineries of Salta. We visited various wineries, a high note being lunch at the Piattelli winery with delicious pairings and a backdrop of incredible mountains. Throughout the entire journey, I was filled with a sensation of peace and tranquillity, surpassed only by the immensity of the mountains and the aridity of the desert.

Without doubt, wines of Salta enjoy a distinct aromatic concentration and tannic structure, from their malbec through to their tannat, and their oak-matured torrontes.

Salta is everything they promise and more. Colourful sunsets, vast plains and incredible wines stand out in this marvellous place that invites you to discover, and of course, to accompany a stunning high-altitude torrontes with some regional cuisine. By far, this was one of my favourite journeys to date.

“Tales of travels among wines”

 

Ignacio Stempels

 

Chef, sommelier and foodie